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The View: Sports Minister Ross is living in cloud cuckoo land

Minister Shane Ross

Sports Minister Shane Ross a bit of a day dreamer?

So, Ireland should seek to stage the Olympics? Maybe if we have the hospitals, the roads, the health services and the prisons sorted out first.

Does Sports Minister Shane Ross really believe that Ireland should apply to stage the Olympics or is this some kind of a wind-up?

His comments this week that Ireland should put together a submission to hold the iconic sports festival at some stage in the future have gone down like a lead balloon. Granted, the Olympics would bring massive revenue into the country and would put Ireland on the international sporting map for a long long time - but really?

The infrastructural costs would be astronomical - we'd have to build major sporting facilities, some of which might never be used again. And remember, we don't have the best of records when it comes to putting vital infrastructure in place - we have spent millions of Euro already trying to decide where the best location for the National Childrens Hospital is, and yet not one brick has been laid for the long overdue facility. Our sick children continue to be treated in crowded wards, while we are treated to a shameful shambles.

Much and all as we love our sport - especially here in Tipperary where we have had many Olympians representing our country, and other, at the games - could we really justify spending such vast sums of money on major sporting infrastructure while; our hospitals remain crowded with trolleys; some our prisons remain in  derelict conditions; our roads are continue to crumble; our health service is in crisis; and the costs of education continue to go up and up and up.

Surely, if Minister Ross feels that there is some 'fiscal space' for Ireland to dream about putting infrastructure in place to stage the Olympics, some of that funding should be used to address the real problems we have.

Yes, it is surely OK to dream and how magnificent it would be were we to actually get to stage the Olympics. But remember, we couldn't manage to stage a Garth Brooks concert in Croke Park for three nights; Pope Francis will bring our capital city to a standstill next summer; and a simple rail or bus strike managed to cripple the whole country a short time ago - well, Dublin anyway and it seems that to Minister Ross, Dublin is the whole country. We simply do not have the scale to contemplate staging the Olympics and it's sinful of the Minister to suggest we should dream.

If Minister Ross really wants to dream about sport, perhaps looking at ways of supporting local communities in their bid to provide facilities would be a far better way of doing it. We have all paid in to draws, raffles, fun runs, festivals, concerts - you name it - fundraisers to provide a GAA pitch,  soccer grounds, swimming pools, athletics tracks, golf clubs, basketball courts, tennis clubs, rugby pitches etc etc etc. You could almost call this a voluntary tax as everywhere you turn these days, somebody is collecting for some sporting organisation or another - and, all very well justified.

So, if Minister Ross has a few bob to spend now, or in the future, maybe he should look down rather than looking up to pie in the sky.  Maybe if we didn't have waiting lists for mental health services; maybe if cancer patients were treated equally, whether private or public patients; maybe if school boards of management didn't have to seek voluntary contributions in order to keep the heat going; maybe if prisoners were treated with a bit more dignity while under our care; maybe if there was equality amongst out citizens; maybe then we could dream about staging the Olympics.

For now, the Minister would be better advised to keep his day dreaming thoughts to himself. 

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