Sport grant applications for National Lottery funding are sorted and assessed by county. There are 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland. The counties can be seen in the map opposite. Those in the Republic of Ireland are in dark green. At the time of our 2008 publication the counties of interest were Donegal and Kerry in respect of the Minister for Sport and Kildare and Offaly for the Ministers for Finance. Donegal and Kerry are located on the western side of the country whereas Kildare and Offaly are located in the midland/east of the country.
Table 1 shows what happened when there was a change in the Minister for Sport. While the Minister for Sport came from Donegal, that county had the highest per person ranking of the 26 counties. When he was replaced by a Minister from Kerry then Kerry jumped to the number 1 spot and Donegal slipped to 23rd out of the 26 counties.
The National Lottery was started in 1986. It was only in its infancy when politicians complained about the use of National Lottery funds. In 1988 Mary Harney (Progressive Democrats) claimed that "Fianna Fail have engaged in the most despicable exercise in gombeen politics ever seen in this country in the way they have handled the allocations from the national lottery" (here). A couple of year later the Progressive Democrats were in government with Fianna Fail. Now it was the turn of Alan Shatter (Fine Gael) to remind Mary Harney and her Progressive Democrat colleagues of her previous words (here). He finished with a flourish saying "The horse of political patronage will once again be ridden and the Minister, Deputy Flynn, like the Lone Ranger of old, will gallop off into the sunset with his faithful Tonto, Deputy Harney, the Minister of State, galloping along beside him". It would seem that Fianna Fail was the force corrupting all who came in contact with them. Tables 1 and 2 above might support that view as all four Ministers were from that political stable.
In 2012 Alan Shatter's political party was the largest party in a coalition government between Fine Gael and Labour. Alan Shatter himself was Minister for Justice. Sport was being catered for by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. One of the junior ministers in the Department was responsible for allocating the sports capital grants. The Minister come from Mayo. This gives us our third natural experiment. It is presented in Table 3. The data is that produced by the Department during 2012. Galway and Mayo are listed as having received €132 for the 1998-2011 period so Mayo is 15th or 16th (joint 15th).