Given the history of questionable grant allocations, it might not have been the best idea to allocate money in this fashion. That said, Enda Kenny is a good advert for physical activity. Born in 1951, his cycling activities make him a good role model for encouraging a healthier, more active lifestyle. Cycling probably contributes to him looking younger than his age (although he might also have some help from his genes). The €20,000 might be considered well spent.
Of course, public expenditure on cycling in Ireland is subject to political influence in ways that may be less than ideal. An excellent insight into some of the issues can be found in a recent article published in Irish Political Studies. Richard Manton titled his paper Spokes or Strokes? Clientelism and Cycling Funding in Ireland. Manton documents how some projects seemed to do better than they should have done based on an assessment by an independent panel. The article provides an impressive array of evidence.
One of the issues raised by Manton is that these grants provide an opportunity for credit claiming. There is little doubt about it. However, one wonders if the delivery of funding maps into actual votes. Mayo attracted plenty of sports funding while Michael Ring was Minister for Sport. Yet, Minister Ring questioned the return in terms of votes after the last election. The Mayo News reported the Minister as saying
“When you look at some of the places I allocated money lately – like in Aughleam where I gave half a million euros for a hall, I got beaten two-to-one there. In Mulranny, very substantial funding was provided to revitalise the whole area, and I got 42 votes, so you have to wonder, do the people want delivery? I don’t know,”
He makes a good point.