Pictured above: Matt English, CEO Special Olympics, Sarah Keane, CEO Swim Ireland and Gary Stewart, CEO Volleyball Ireland

Members of the Federation of Irish Sport gathered on 3rd October at Irish Sport HQ at the National Sports Campus to hear details of the Pre-Budget Submission made to Government on behalf of the Sports sector.

Federation CEO Mary O’Connor highlighted the four key Asks of Government with the top priority being an Increase in Core Funding for National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships. Arising from the meeting of member CEO’s and Coordinators, it became evident of the urgent need to retain staff and having sufficient personnel to implement organisation operational plans and National Sport Policy programmes to increase participation and encourage lifelong participation in sport and physical activity.

In addition to the main Ask relating to Core Funding, the other priorities for the sector include Taxation Reform under Action 3.7 of the National Sports Policy, Raising the Betting Levy from 2% to 3% and an Acceleration of Insurance Reform.

Tasked with driving Action 3.7 of the National Sports Policy the Federation worked closely with Bryan Hughes Senior Associate at A&L Goodbody and supported by economist Jim Power, to submit a report to Government which contains a number of tax expenditure reforms, which at their core seek to make sporting organisations more self-sustainable and less reliant on Government grant funding in the future.

From left, Senior Associate at A&L Goodbody Brian Hughes, Swim Ireland CEO Sarah Keane, Economist Jim Power and Badminton Ireland CEO Enda Lynch,

Speaking at the briefing A&L Goodbody Senior Associate Bryan Hughes commented: “In assisting FIS with submissions to the relevant Government Ministers, we are conscious of the budgetary and legislative constraints. However, certain amendments aligned with the Sports Action Plan are possible which would go some way to achieving the policy objectives of it and the National Sports Policy.”

A number of member CEOs voiced their support of the call for an increase in core funding:

Michelle Carpenter CEO of Rowing Ireland contributed: “As we head into a significant time for many sports which in effect is a home Olympics with Paris 2024, it’s key to invest in core funding in sport to embrace and underpin the investment in high performance sport through supporting our clubs and legacies. We have incredible ambassadors that will empower and encourage a nation and we need the tools now to maximise on this.”

Rowing Ireland CEO Michelle Carpenter and Sport for Business Founder and Editor-in-Chief Rob Hartnett 

Enda Lynch CEO of Badminton Ireland added: “Despite the incredibly valuable role sport plays in the health and wellbeing of Irish people, and the growth in participation that successive governments have targeted, the funding necessary to help people lead healthier lives through sport is struggling to keep pace in line with inflation and associated costs of doing business. Staff on one-year contracts, without pensions or health insurance etc. is not sustainable – and without the brilliant people currently working in sport, we simply won’t succeed. An increase in core funding that is reflective of NGB’s looking to do the best for their staff is critical.”

Badminton Ireland CEO Enda Lynch speaking during the Federation of Irish Sport Pre-Budget Breakfast Briefing

Speaking at the briefing Federation of Irish Sport CEO Mary O’Connor said: It is important that Government do not take sport and physical activity for granted in budget 2024 and continues its commitment to the sector by increasing core funding and recognising the significant role sport and physical activity plays throughout Ireland from grass sports to high performance.”

Federation of Irish Sport CEO Mary O’Connor speaking during the Federation of Irish Sport Pre-Budget Breakfast Briefing at Irish Sport HQ Building