New round of Sports Capital Funding for clubs Just in time for Christmas came the confirmation that the hugely popular Sports Capital Programme is certain to re-open this year, which is welcome news. I’ve worked with a number of clubs on their grant applications over the years and know first-hand the value of this funding scheme for local clubs and communities in terms of improved equipment and facilities. Many local clubs have benefited from the programme and it’s important that we continue to build on this investment in communities. Investing in sport is good for the health of the nation. Online applications for grants under the Sports Capital Programme 2017 will be open from 23rd January to 24 February and I really want to encourage local clubs and sports organisations to apply. Ahead of the application period, clubs can get ready and register online at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie. For more information, get in touch with my office on 021 4559353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Positive news continues on the jobs and tourism fronts It’s great to see the positive trend of job creation and falling unemployment continue right up to the end of 2016, despite uncertainties created by Brexit. Jobs continue to be created across all sectors, with unemployment now down to 7.2% as of December. In the south west alone, over 1,800 additional jobs were created by IDA-supported companies last year, with Cork driving the growth of foreign direct investment in the region. It was also a record year for the Irish tourism sector 2016, where overseas visitor numbers were on the previous year. As Cork airport prepares to welcome new transatlantic airlines WOW Air and Norwegian Airlines, which will finally open Cork tourism directly to the valuable North American market, we can look ahead to another good year for Cork tourism, with Blarney in particular set to benefit.
Welcome reopening of Egyptian market to Irish beef I’m delighted to see the reopening of the Egyptian market to Irish beef, which has been confirmed by Minister Creed and comes as good news for farmers at the start of the year. Egypt is one of the largest consumer markets in the Middle East and North Africa, with a population of over 80 million, and is the third biggest destination for Irish agri-food exports to Africa, with exports of €45m in 2015. The re-opening of the Egyptian market comes on the back of other positive beef market access announcements in 2016 and is particularly important as part of the search for new third country markets as the UK prepares to exit from the EU.
Help to Buy scheme open for first-time buyers Under the Help-to-Buy scheme, first-time buyers can now recoup up to €20,000 in a tax refund to put towards the cost of purchasing a property. The scheme, which was announced in Budget 2017 last October, allows first-time buyers an income tax rebate of up to €20,000 up to a value of €500,000, from January 2017, to fund their home purchase deposit. The scheme is designed to assist those who were having trouble saving a deposit to purchase their own home. Under new Central Bank rules, first-time buyers need a deposit of 10 per cent, half of which can now come from the Help-to-Buy initiative, meaning that first time home buyers should be able to purchase a property with a deposit of 5%. Those looking for more information on the scheme and how to apply should visit www.revenue.ie