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Irish Sport Unites In Appeal To Government

Irish Sport Unites In Appeal To Government

Irish sport has once again united in making a submission to the Government, highlighting the vital role played by Government funding in the development of Irish sport.

In a submission made on behalf of everyone involved in Irish sport, the national sporting organisations pointed out the damage that will be done to sport in Ireland if the Government was to make drastic cuts in the current funding of sport in this country.

Their clear message was that major cuts made today will set Irish sport back for decades to come.

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Last year, a total of €;49.6 million in taxpayers’ money was invested in the development of all Irish sport.

Joining today in making the submission are the GAA, the FAI, the IRFU, the GUI, the Olympic Council of Ireland, the Paralympics Council, Special Olympics Ireland and the Federation of Irish Sports (FIS) which represents the governing body of 68 sports in Ireland.

All of the sports represented by the FIS have given full backing to the submission.

The submission to the Government was presented to the Minister for Sport, Ms. Mary Hanafin TD., earlier today by a delegation of sportsmen and sportswomen.

Representing Ireland’s sporting community were Paul O’Connell (Rugby), Lar Corbett (Hurling), Katie Taylor (Boxing), Stephen Rice (Soccer), Andrew Bree (Swimming), Claire O’Connor (Camogie), Garrett Culliton (Paralympics) and Robert Deegan (Special Olympics).

The submission document to the Government fully acknowledges the difficult economic climate and the challenges for the Government in where to invest taxpayers’ money in the next budget.

It does make the point, however, that the money invested in sport works at many different levels and has impacts for everyone whether that be in terms of health, the economy, tourism or the very fabric of the community in Ireland.

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said: “Sport has a positive effect at every level. What other aspect of life in Ireland gets 270,000 people to volunteer their time on a weekly basis to ensure that 1.7 million people participate in sport in 12.000 clubs in every part of the country. And that is only part of the story.

“On a purely practical level, for every euro invested by the Government the sports themselves invest a further two to three euros. Recent research also found that for every €;100 invested by the Government, the return to the Exchequer is €;149.

“They are just some of the tangible benefits. At a time when Ireland needs good news more than ever before, the performance of our sports stars both on a national and an international stage continue to be an immense source of pride to Irish people all over the world.”

In an open letter to the Government in the submission, the governing bodies make the point that this is about, ‘the positive effects of sport at every level not just to elite participants important as they are to us all.’

The submission also makes the point that sport does not just happen – nothing could be further from the truth.

“Sport, as we know it in Ireland today, is the result of good planning, enlightened administration and financial investment particularly by the Government on behalf of all taxpayers.

“That funding is the lifeblood of sport in Ireland and the catalyst for all that follows.

“It would be difficult to over emphasise just how important the impact of €;49.6 million given to sport through the Irish Sports Council. It is the seed capital for activity and an industry worth in excess of €;1.8 billion to Ireland each year.

“It must be remembered that only a small proportion of the Government funding goes to elite performers.

“Over 80% of the money provided by the Government is invested in sport at grassroots level in creating the programmes that will produce top class athletes and just as importantly help improve the health and well being of our citizens.”

The submission further makes the point that funding for sport has never been more important.

“Right across the country, clubs at all levels are finding that other sources of funds are drying up. They are finding it increasingly difficult to attract sponsorship, while the subscriptions normally paid by club members are becoming increasingly challenging to collect,” it added.