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Irish Sport Unites To Protect Funding

Irish Sport Unites To Protect Funding

All of Irish sport has joined together in a campaign to highlight the importance of continued government funding of Irish sport. Sport in Ireland spoke with one voice as it delivered its submission to Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr Martin Cullen, TD, earlier today (Wednesday).

Joining forces in the campaign are the Federation of Irish Sports, the GAA, the FAI, the IRFU, the GUI, the Olympic Council of Ireland, the Paralympic Council and Special Olympics Ireland.  

The Federation represents the governing bodies of 65 sports.

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Outlining the reasons for the campaign, Sarah O’Connor, Chief Executive of Federation of Irish Sports, said: “In making this submission on behalf of everyone involved in Irish sport, we wish to emphasise the important role sport plays in Irish life, in improving public health, contributing to economic activity, driving tourism, building communities and projecting a positive image of brand ‘Ireland’ at home and abroad.

“While we fully recognise today’s unprecedented economic conditions in Ireland, it is our considered belief that Irish sport has already suffered a significant reduction in funding with the suspension of the Sports Capital Programme and a 11% reduction in 2009 of Irish Sports Council funding. The McCarthy Report now recommends further cuts.

“We would stress that sport is not looking for additional funding but rather to protect existing and promised investment.

“This includes capital developments such as the proposed National Sports Campus at Abbotstown, which has been granted full planning permission and which was intended to be a cornerstone of Ireland’s programme in relation to the 2012 London Olympics.”

In order to protect the future funding of Irish sport, the Federation and the governing bodies are now calling on the government to ensure that:

– There is no further reduction in the budget allocated to sport through the Irish Sports Council

– Sport remains as a separate Government Department

– The  Sports Capital Programme is reinstated

– The National Sports Campus is developed

Philip Browne, Chief Executive of the Irish Rugby Football Union, said it has been estimated that sport contributes at least a twelvefold return on the funding put in by government. It also contributes 1.7% of Ireland’s GDP.

“Major sporting occasions contribute millions to the local economy and sustain many jobs across a range of industries,” he said.

“It has been well researched and documented that an Ireland v England rugby international contributes in excess of €;80 million to the local Dublin economy.

“It is often overlooked that the funding the government puts into the Sports Capital Programme has a huge return.

“If we take the construction of the new Aviva Stadium, the government has contributed €;191 million.

“During the construction period they will receive almost €;150 million of that back in VAT and taxes. The total project, which is also being funded by the FAI and the IRFU, will represent an overall government investment of just over €;400 million.

“And that is only part of the impact felt in economic terms. Over the three-year period since the project was begun, there has been up to 800 jobs created by the construction.

“When finished, Aviva Stadium has the potential to deliver up to 1,000 jobs on match days.”

Browne added: “Once we start holding other events, the stadium will become an income earner for the local Dublin economy, creating indirect jobs and also generating government revenue.

“Other indirect benefits come from the exposure that major events generate for Ireland.”

Sarah O’Connor from the Federation of Irish Sports said that the programme was backed by each and every sports governing body and that those national governing bodies would be asking their members to lobby their local TDs to help the campaign realise its aims.

She also noted that following the briefing, copies of the submission would be sent to every TD in the country along with a factsheet outlining the potential impact of funding cuts on sport in their local area.

“We have also sought meetings with the Oireachtas Committee on Sport and it is out intention to request further meetings with the officials in the Department of Finance,” she added.

O’Connor noted that copies of the complete submission to government could be accessed at www.irishsport.ie.

In conclusion she asked the media to back the campaign.

“Every day our sports media devote a huge amount of time and space to sport. They realise just how important a part sport plays in all our lives.

“We would hope that you will help us in our efforts to remind everyone of the significance of sport to Ireland.”