McHugh describes Lottery funding as local democracy in action

FG Deputy Joe McHugh.

FG Deputy Joe McHugh.

Fine Gael Deputy Joe McHugh rejected suggestions that the National Lottery was used by politicians to buy votes and instead described it as “an exercise in local democracy in action where local politicians were in touch with their constituency base and realised that there were small parishes and areas that would not otherwise have funding to build a new sports centre, an extension onto a sports club or to provide a community centre or service. Politicians are the ones who ensured that the €12 billion was spread out as evenly as possible in their constituencies and fought tooth and nail to ensure that would happen.”

During a debate on the National Lottery Bill Deputy McHugh said he acknowledged the good work the National Lottery had done in the past. “A total of €12 billion has been invested in various areas over a 25-year period. Many areas have benefited, such as Carrigart, Clonmany, Carrickmacross and Castlecoote. Money was distributed to many areas that otherwise would not have got such benefits.”

Deputy McHugh continued: “According to the Minister, there is a need to tender for the outsourcing of the licence but it is important to ensure that we enshrine in the legislation that good causes will benefit. We should not avoid the rationale behind the positive functioning of the lottery system. One could ask why such a mechanism was required. One could point to the centralising of Exchequer funding and the priority given to larger projects for worthy needs such as hospitals, the provision of bigger roads, sewerage schemes and water schemes. The bulk of funding goes to core areas where population centres are concentrated. There is a constant fight in rural areas for funding that would not otherwise be available to them. It is important in the context of a debate on the Lottery to examine the reason rural, isolated areas are always fighting for the crumbs of its share of the pie.”


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