The 2014 round of grant allocations were announced last week. This was the second round of grants made under this minister. His first round was in December 2012 when he announced the local grants in early December and the non-local grants later in December. The combined 2012 grant allocations looked as if they conformed to the previous pattern of political geographical bias. The Minister's county (Mayo) received the third highest per person allocation. Two other north-west counties (Sligo and Leitrim) filled the top two places when it came to per person allocations.
When the 2014 allocations are combined with the 2012 allocation, the per person allocation of Mayo does not standout from the pack. Figure 1 below presents the combined allocations made by Minister Ring. A feature of the allocations is the Minister's "Robin Hood" principle. Those counties who did poorly between 1998-2011 got a little bit more under this minister (although Sligo and Leitrim remain out of line). Minister Ring seems to be setting about correcting the previous bias. He has got some deserved positive comments from the media in this respect (here).
It should also be noted that Minister Ring seems determined to make it clear that there was inappropriate allocations made under previous ministers. In his usual spirited delivery, the Minister pointed out how a range of previous allocations were classified as "invalid" despite receiving grants. As part of his reply to Fianna Fail's Timmy Dooley (here) he said,
"In 2007, when Deputy Dooley's party was in Government, the then Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism set the criteria and officials submitted the eligible applications. I will outline some of the figures, as follows: Glebe Sport Holdings in Letterkenny was allocated €250,000 - invalid; Baltinglass GAA club, €50,000 - invalid; Kilmanamagh Family Recreation Centre, €175,000 - invalid; St. Mary's GAA club in Cahersiveen, County Kerry - Deputy Dooley knows
who was Minister at the time - €300,000 - invalid; Farranfore Maine Valley AC, County Kerry, allocated €5,000 - insufficient own funding, invalid"
His reference to St Mary's GAA club is drawing attention to John O'Donoghue of Fianna Fail. Previous posts have outlined the bias in the allocation when he was Minister for Sport.
There is a Cabinet reshuffle due in the coming days. Minister Ring may, or may not, be moved from his current position. Regardless, he can point out that when one looks at the combined 2012 and 2014 grant allocation, he outperformed many of his predecsssors when it came to giving a "fair" distribution to his county.