Good news for good causes…

My own research suggests National Lottery funds are supporting good causes

There’s a new ad on the telly that has been creating some argument and debate around the country (including in our own house) in recent weeks. It’s presented and paid for by the National Lottery company and depicts a scene where a lady who has been selling lotto tickets in a shop in the countryside has claimed to her neighbours and customers that ninety per cent of the money taken in by the big lottery operator actually goes back out to good causes or stays in the local community.

The ad depicts the shopkeeper making the initial claims and then what could only be described as a sceptical response coming from the people who are there with her, those gathered outside the building, and one particular lady in front of her who more or less implies that the shopkeeper has lost her marbles by even suggesting such a statistic could be accurate in the first place.

The ad concludes when a man who might be described as a lookalike for Doc Brown, the eccentric scientist in ‘Back to the Future’, steps forward with a mad invention-type gadget akin to a lie-detecting machine and punches in the info – only to be told within seconds that it is indeed a fact that ninety per cent of all the money taken in by those gambling in the National Lottery games is then redistributed in the community to projects, paid out in prizes or in commission to the shop owners, and finding its way to a plethora of good causes.




There was a time when I would also have been one of the people who might have been a wee bit sceptical about the amount of National Lottery takings that actually made its way back from the cash registers to good causes around the island – but that day has fortunately long gone. I first discovered the truth about the ‘take’ made by the lottery when I researched this local ‘dividend’ claim last summer. I was part of a group which was nominated to take part in a competition to determine the best good cause winner in the country that had actually received National Lottery money from the lottery or the Government’s sports capital grants in the previous 12 months.

Around about this time last year I was proud to stand with my colleagues and the volunteers from the Lough Ree Access for All Boat in Ballyleague and compete in the national finals – where Roscommon town’s Dorothy O’Riordan Coyle was about to become somewhat of a national celebrity.

Dorothy is a wheelchair user and one of those brave people in society who has never let her physical disability hold her back from doing anything in life. I suppose that’s why she became involved as a volunteer for the Access for All boat which had initially been funded to the tune of over €100,000 by the EU LEADER programme through Roscommon LEADER Partnership.


Make it possible


Speaking to the judges, Dorothy sang the praises of a vessel that broke down the barriers for people who wanted to roll their own wheelchair independently onto a boat and go out for a voyage – like everyone else in society can. Her famous saying about social inclusion is that ‘everything is possible if you make it possible’ and it has struck a chord with people all over the country since then. I work with Dorothy now every week on the same project – attracting hundreds of people with disabilities from all over the island to come to Ballyleague and enjoy the social impact of the boat trip – and I can confirm that the €38,000 the lottery sent back to the sports capital grant section who sent it on to us was well spent two years ago in helping to pay for the original price of the boat and trailer.

Last week the lottery PR people unveiled the names of some of the good causes from County Roscommon and elsewhere in the country who are going to fight it out for the right to become this year’s national ‘Good Causes’ champion. We were thrilled to see some very decent local representatives on the list of county winners. The Lottery says that a dragon boat club from the west of Ireland, a blood bike group serving the north-east region, an Irish language radio station based in Dublin, and a refuge providing emergency accommodation to victims of domestic violence are amongst the 118 groups, sports clubs, community projects and organisations from all over Ireland who have been announced as county winners.

Apart from singing the praises of those in the finals now, the National Lottery CEO, Andrew Algeo, went on to make a very big political point on the day of the launch.

He described how significantly more individuals, charities, groups, projects and organisations all over Ireland could benefit from Good Causes’ funding if a ban on lottery betting were to be introduced.


Betting ban


“If the practice of betting on lottery games were to be finally banned in Ireland, as it is in most EU countries, our research shows that National Lottery sales would increase by at least €228 million, which would result in approximately €63 million in additional funding for the Good Causes fund which would have a huge impact on communities all over Ireland” Algeo claimed.

“Last year, Benefacts established that 34% of all charitable giving in Ireland in 2021 was attributable via the National Lottery. We believe that even more charitable and community groups would directly benefit if a ban on lottery betting was put in place”.

Whatever about that scenario, two groups from County Roscommon and a further seven from the extended area around Lough Ree are now in the mix with the chance of winning up to €35,000 for the honour of being the best good cause. The popular Melting Pot ‘Dinner For U’ social enterprise, based in Roscommon town, is among the winners in the community section and the Ballinlough-Granlahan Heritage group will fly the flag in the heritage section. St Mary’s National school in Newtowncashel on the east shore of the lake will fight it out in the arts and culture section and Cian’s Kennels, a terrific charity (with Roscommon links) which allows very sick children to have their own pet stay at the Crumlin Children’s Hospital, is a worthy winner too in the counties’ section.

There is a decent pot of funds to be won here. The total prize fund for the Good Causes Awards is €130,000 and each of the 35 finalists will win €1,000 when they are announced in June. At the awards ceremony in October, each of the seven category winners will receive €10,000 and the overall Good Cause of the Year will take home an additional €25,000.

The overall winners will be revealed at a Gala Awards Dinner in Kildare on Saturday, 1st of October. We wish them all well. The full list of County Winners can be found at

*Lough Ree Access for All are sailing seven days now with boat trips three times a day on Lough Ree. You can book any time on or by calling 089 2625505.