Minister of State for Tourism & Sport, Michael Ring TD, has today published the Sport Ireland Bill 2014 following approval by the Government.
The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the establishment of a new statutory sports body, Sport Ireland, which merges the two existing sports bodies - the Irish Sports Council and the National Sports Campus Development Authority.
The merger of the two bodies is part of the Government's programme for the rationalisation of State agencies.
Minister Michael Ring TD said: "This Bill brings responsibility for the implementation of Irish sports policy under a single agency, Sport Ireland. The new agency will take over responsibility for the relevant functions currently performed by the Council and the Authority.
"Sport Ireland will continue the work currently being done by the Council in promoting, developing and co-ordinating sport in Ireland and also the work of the Authority in developing the National Sports Campus at Blanchardstown. I hope to have the Bill enacted during the next Dáil term and to establish Sport Ireland as early as possible."
The Sport Ireland Bill combines the main provisions of the Irish Sports Council Act, 1999 and the National Sports Campus Development Authority Act 2006.
It also includes new provisions relating to doping in sport, which ensure the statutory underpinning of the national Anti-Doping Programme and the Irish Anti-Doping Rules.
Minister Ring added: "Anti-doping is a key area of work in sport aimed at ensuring that all athletes are competing on an equal footing. The Bill includes new provisions which will help Sport Ireland in its work in combating doping in sport, and in continuing the work done by the Irish Sports Council in this area.
"The Bill provides a statutory basis for Ireland's Anti-Doping Programme and the Irish Anti-Doping Rules. It also provides for sharing of information between Sport Ireland and relevant organisations, including the Irish Medicines Board, the Gardaí and Customs, which is an essential element in the fight against doping in sport."
As European competitions return this weekend, there will be a number of IRFU referees in action in the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup. There is also action in the British and Irish Cup and there's one game in the Ulster Bank League.
As the Ireland Men's Sevens programme continues to build towards the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series in June and July, Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby, has named a 14-man squad to take part in a two-day training camp in Cardiff on Thursday and Friday this week.
The fixtures have been announced and the tickets are on sale for the pool stages of the Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland this year. We spoke to Tom Tierney and Niamh Briggs as they look forward to a huge year for rugby in Ireland.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt praised the squad's 'immense character' following the 27-24 GUINNESS Series success against Australia. Meanwhile, captain Rory Best reflects on 'an emotional day' as he made his 100th appearance for his country.
Irish Rugby TV brings you a behind the scenes look at Ireland's final GUINNESS Series game against Australia. Joe Schmidt's men marked captain Rory Best's 100th cap with a superb 27-24 victory over the Wallabies.
Saturday's GUINNESS Series clash with Australia marks Michael Kearney's last game as Ireland team manager. We spoke to him about five memorable years in the role. Watch out for a couple of special cameos!
Dick Spring, Chairman of Ireland's RWC 2023 Bid Oversight Board, and Bid Ambassador Brian O'Driscoll speak about their excitement at officially launching Ireland's bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023. #Ireland2023
We're ready to create something legendary. A showcase for rugby nations old and new. A tournament that will grow the game globally, promote the values, spirit and ethos of rugby and will capture the world's imagination. #Ireland2023 - Liam Neeson gives voice to Ireland's bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023.
Tickets are now on sale for the first ever Women's November International Series to be held in the UCD Bowl. Kids go free with any adult tickets. Ireland will face world champions England, top ranked Canada and the Black Ferns of New Zealand.
Tournament Director Garrett Tubridy sets the scene for an exciting weekend of rugby at UCD where 16 Women's Sevens teams will battle it out at for one qualifying spot for the Rio Olympics. Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ie/sevens.
Tadhg Furlong reflects on a disappointing day for Ireland against South Africa. However, he will take positives from his first Test start and be ready to build for the final match of the series in Port Elizabeth.
Paddy Jackson is preparing for Ireland's second Test against South Africa on Saturday (kick-off 5pm local time/4pm Irish time). The Ulster out-half has been checking out Ellis Park in advance of the match.