Finn Harps FC has so far received the following responses from candidates in the Donegal Constituency for the election taking place on February 8th.
Micheal White, Green Party:
I've read your letter. 100% I will support this.
Not getting the funding for the stadium is a clear sign that Donegal has been left behind in it's recreational infrastructure.
Football is under threat in Ireland, and it is crucial that our clubs are not put at risk in terms of the development of their infrastructure.
I will work to secure funding if elected.
Let me know if you need anything else from me or the Donegal Green Party.
Pat The Cope Gallagher, Fianna Fail:
Pearse Doherty Sinn Fein:
“I am disgusted at the actions of the Minister Ross and his Department, and their exclusion of the new Finn Harps Stadium for the funding list for 2020. This decision is disappointing in the extreme and it is yet another sign that this Government places the people of Donegal at the bottom of their list of priorities."
"During the last few years, much work and effort has been put into this project by the club and its directors, and they have worked diligently to ensure that the club met all provisions and recommendations set out by the Department to ensure the project would proceed this year."
He said the development of the stadium is vital for the future of senior soccer in Donegal, and the rejection of the funding application "is a real kick in the teeth".
He has now written to Minister Ross to request that he review this decision without delay.
"In addition, if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected in three weeks time, I have committed that my first action will be to organise a meeting between the incoming Minister, the Finn Harps Board and all five Donegal TDs to seek an immediate resolution to this issue.
“The sporting community in Donegal needs immediate clarity on the future of this project. The new Stadium has the potential to be a top class facility that will ensure the future is bright for soccer in the county."
“We must now ensure that funding for the project is secured, work begins again in earnest, and Ollie Horgan, the club and its supporters can concentrate on other important matters, such as keeping the club in the Premier Division for 2021,".
Padraig MacLochlainn Sinn Fein:
Thank you Kathy for your email. Myself and Pearse Doherty have made numerous representations to the Minister to support Finn Harp’s stadium plans over recent years and I was outraged to learn that the expected funding was not announced in the last week.
I understand that Pearse met with your committee yesterday along with Cllrs Gary Doherty and Liam Doherty to convey our support and I will be supporting the follow up representations that they make.
Best regards, Pádraig
Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn
Joe McHugh Fine Gael:
Minister Joe McHugh sent a message to the Finn Harps Board meeting of Monday 21st January. The Minister had hoped to attend the meeting in person but was unable to do so due to last minute commitments. However he sent his apologies beforehand and forwarded a message to the Board 'Sorry I couldn't be at the meeting, I believe that the Finn Harps Project is critical for the future development of underage football in the County. You have my continued support and I am happy to work with your commitee in the time ahead'. He also attached a note that he received from Minister Brendan Griffin, Junior Minister for Sport, which read as follows 'There is no need for them to wait for the next round. We have sent their application along with the cost benefit material supplied to our Strategic Research and Analysis Division (SRAD). The successful applicants are all being sent to SRAD for further assessment and sign-off. This is a requirement of the Public Spending Code. In other words, while we didnt recommend a grant for Finn Harps last week, they are at the same stage of the process as the successful applicants. I have no doubt that SRAD will raise queries/concerns and we will have some back and forth with the club before a grant could be recommended but that is not unusual'.
Peter Casey Independent:
Finn Harps ‘let down’ as Government incompetence wastes billions Independent candidate Peter Casey is backing Finn Harps’ stadium funding appeal after the Ballybofey club was “shamefully let down by the Government”. Mr Casey is offering his support to the football club, following the exclusion of its Donegal Community Stadium Project from the funding round announced by the Department of Sport earlier this month. Mr Casey said: “It is now feared that around €1.2 million in taxpayers' money spent on preliminary works may be wasted because the Government has effectively abandoned the project. I’m told that the structures already put in place will soon be not fit for purpose. That cannot be allowed to happen. “Finn Harps has done its part, but the Government has pulled the carpet from under the club. The hard-working people who are dedicated to delivering this important community facility should have the backing of all candidates in Donegal to ensure its delivery as soon as possible. Let’s get this done for Donegal. “Sport plays an important role in our society and Finn Harps is an integral part of the sporting community in Donegal. It is a shame and a disgrace that the €6.7 million in state funding which was approved is now being reneged on by this Government.
Charlie McConalogue Fianna Fail:
Thank you for your letter on behalf of the Club in relation to the inexplicable decision by the Government not to follow through on the promised funding for Finn Harps under the large scale sporting infrastructure grant scheme.
I have always and will continue to be fully supportive of this much needed funding being delivered for the Club so that it can complete this essential project.
Charlie McConalogue TD
Thomas Pringle Independent:
Martin Harley Fine Gael:
Firstly I was as disappointed as anyone regarding the fact that Finn Harps were omitted from this tranche of funding. I was very positive that the money would be given to complete the pitch and the others works discussed. In all I believe the monies drawn down so far for this project began is over 1.5 million and I do not believe the department want to see this money wasted.
In the short term I have put a motion to Donegal County Council asking them to lead out on this project as there are difficulties at FAI headquarters at the moment. This does not mean that Finn Harps have to start all the application process because all paper work is in place contrary to some officials.
Secondly if Elected I will ensure this project is delivered to ensure there is League of Ireland football in County Donegal going forward.
Finally anyone who knows me knows I have always supported Harps on the Terraces and Financially from my own pocket, and through my Business and at a Council level over the years.
Cllr Martin M Harley.
Letter of support from Donegal County Council:
Motions Passed Donegal Co. Council Meeting 27.01.2020
1. Cllr Gary Doherty,
That Donegal County Council engage with Finn Harps FC and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on the proposed new stadium in Stranorlar to ensure that:
• This Council will commit to taking the lead role in administering both the application for funding and the overall project management
• This Council recognises the strategic importance of the new stadium to sport in Donegal, and its relevance in regard to the Local Area Plan for Ballybofey and Stranorlar and the categorisation as a sports hub under the County Development Plan 2018-2024.
• There are no further blocks to the funding process and work can begin on the stadium as soon as possible.
2. Cllr. John O’ Donnell
‘Calling on this Council to write to the Department making a plea for much needed funding for Finn Harps Football Club’.
3. Cllr. Martin Harley
‘I am calling on Donegal County Council to work with Finn Harps FC, the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport and the FAI as the national governing body for soccer in Ireland, towards the delivery and completion of the Finn Harps Stadium Project in Stranorlar so as to secure the future of League of Ireland soccer in County Donegal.
FAI Letter of Support:
Details of the letters sent to candidates can be found HERE