Patrick Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland , Paraic Duffy, Director General of the GAA, John Delaney CEO of the FAI, Phillip Browne, CEO of the IRFU, all highlighted the contribution sport makes to society and the importance of funding.
The countries’ top sports administrators spoke out on the day a submission about the vital role of state funding in the development of Irish sport was presented to the government.
The submission to Mary Hanafin, the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, highlights the role of Government investment in sport.
It says that cuts made now would set sport back for decades and that sport funding has already reduced by 62% since 2008.
Top sportspeople Andrew Bree (swimming), Claire O’Connor (camogie), Robert Deegan (Special Olympics), Stephen Rice (soccer), Lar Corbett (hurling), Paul O’Connell (rugby), Katie Taylor (toxing) and Garrett Culliton (paralympics) presented the submission to the Minister at the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport in Dublin today.
Sport administrators’ comments in full:
Patrick Hickey, President, Olympic Council of Ireland
‘It is essential that the Government continue to give full backing to Irish sport if we want Irish sport to be successful. Irish sporting success has been one of the few bright spots for the country in recent years.
‘I have said it many times in the past that if investment in sport is curtailed at this point in time then not alone can we virtually write off any chances of success for the 2012 London Olympics but we can certainly forget about our chances in Rio in 2016.
‘I think it is indicative of the importance of Government funding that Irish sport is fully united in making this submission.’
John Delaney, CEO, FAI
‘It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of the funding put into Irish sport by Government. It really is the seed capital which enables us to develop all of our sports. While it is not a large budget by comparison to other countries it certainly is a vital one.
‘To cut back on the budget at this point in time would have a disastrous effect on the future of Irish sport. It would set Irish sport back many many years.’
‘It is recognised worldwide that you cannot simply turn sports funding on and off.
‘If funding dries up programmes disappear and we lose sportsmen and sportswomen who potentially may never come back into sport.
‘Contrary to a popular misconception sport does not just happen. It needs to be planned, managed and, above all, properly financed. Government investment in Irish sport commenced in 1997. We have come a long way since then in terms of increased access to sport and improved consistency on the international stage. Investment in sport is an investment in the health and well being of our country.’
Philip Browne, CEO, IRFU
‘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 1,200 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 Government the sports themselves invest a further two to three euros. Recent research also found that for every €100 invested by 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.’
Paraic Duffy, Director General, GAA
‘As I have said on many occasions sport has a significant role to play in improving public health, contributing to the economy, building communities, driving tourism and establishing pride in Ireland both at home and abroad. Sport has a remarkable power to make us feel good and that is hugely important in the current difficult economic times.
‘Every day across Ireland thousands of people are involved in coaching, playing, volunteering and administrating sports. We should never under estimate the huge significance of sport in our lives. One cannot imagine Ireland as a country without sport.’
Sarah O’Connor, CEO, The Federation of Irish Sports
‘The €49.6 million invested in Irish Sport through the Irish Sports Council is the lifeline of the majority of our sports organisations. It is the money that facilities the many programmes that are run at local, county and regional levels with a view to increasing participation in sport.
‘This funding also supports many of the sports programmes that are run through schools. It is the funding that assists our talented athletes to fulfil their dreams of being the best that they can be. Any further reduction in the €49.6 million funding will directly impact on the availability and quality of sport right around the country.
‘Sport touches the lives of all almost all Irish people. It projects a positive message both home and abroad at a time of incredible difficulty for us all. The sums of money required to maintain the current efforts are small particularly, when you think of the significant number of people it impacts upon.
‘Irish Sport can help lift the current gloom. We are asking the government to allow us to be a tool in the economic recovery of our nation and not a victim of it.’