02 Apr Federation of Irish Sports seek to protect Sports Funding in Tuesdays budget
Irish sports bodies call on Government to protect remaining sports budget
- Call to Protect Future of Irish Sport
- Major Impacts from Grassroots through to Olympics 2012
- Irish Sport Could Be Set Back 10 Years
Irish sport has joined forces under the banner of the Federation of Irish Sports to call on the Government not to make any further reduction in funding for Irish sport. The Federation, which represents 64 sports and over 1.5 million people, has written to all politicians pointing out the consequences of reducing funding and particularly funding for the Irish Sports Council any further. Already some 35% has been wiped from the overall government investment in sport for 2009 with suspension of the Sports Capital Programmes, the Local Authority Swimming Pool programme and uncertainty regarding the future of the National Sports Campus.
Calling on the Government to protect the remaining sports budget earlier today (Thursday, 2 April, 2009), Ms Sarah O’Connor, chief executive of the Federation of Irish Sports, said that it was particularly important that the Government made no further reduction into Irish Sports Council funding which has already been reduced by 8% over the 2008 level. "Any further reduction in this budget will undoubtedly have a major impact on sport at all levels from the grassroots right through to our elite sportsmen and sportswomen especially those with their sights set on the 2012 Olympics in London."
She said that she was speaking on behalf of all Irish sports including the major sports bodies, all of whom expressed their concern at the potential for lonf-term damage should funding be reduced. In particular she noted that any further reduction in the Sports Council funding could not be sustained without:-
- loss of jobs & expertise in the NGB sector and Local Sports Partnerships
- collapse in the sports development and participation programmes
- significant reduction and/or elimination of the High Performance Programmes
- loss of grant aid received by elite athletes
- impacting on international performance including London 2012
- reduction in access of local communities to sport & physical activity
- erosion of social capital provided by sport
She said that the belief amongst all of the sporting organisations was that further reductions in funding could set Irish sport back ten years. " Irish Sport has progressed significantly in the last 10 years. There can be little doubt that much of this progress is attributable to the government investment in sport which only commenced with any significance in 1997. The reality is however that any further reduction in the funding available to the Irish Sports Council will result in much of this hard work and effort being undone resulting in the reduction in the availability of sport in local communities as well as impacting on the ability of our elite athletes to be the best they can be."
She said that in the appeal to the Government they had also pointed out the major role sport has to play both in terms of self esteem but also in the actual health of the nation.
"We have much to be proud of but sport is not just about national pride. It is even more important than that. Each year sport contributes more than €2 billion to our economy (ESRI Report).
And that again is only part of the story. Over one million people actively participate in sport on a regular basis as worldwide research shows that has a hugely positive effort on the cost of health provision in this country. To put it in perspective research has shown in the US inactivity (non participation in any sporting activity) costs the country in excess of $70 billion annually in terms of spending on health. If the same model was to be applied in Ireland the cost to our health service is almost €1 billion".