Issued by the Federation of Irish Sport the representative body for Ireland’s Governing Bodies Sport and Local Sports Partnerships.

We are extremely disappointed with today’s announcement which sees a further 8% reduction in current funding for Irish Sport with funding to the Irish Sports Council believed to be in the region of €40 million for next year – a reduction of approximately €3 million on 2013. This is the funding that enables over 100 Irish Sports organisations to run sports development programmes essential to delivering sporting opportunities to all, provide much needed support to grassroots clubs and volunteers as well as providing assistance to our international athletes.

This is the sixth year in a row for cuts – investment in sport already having fallen by some 25% – and now sees Irish Sport back to 2006 levels of support. This is particularly damaging given that consistent government investment in sport only commenced in a meaningful way in 1999 and broke the €30 million barrier for the first time in 2004.

Funding for sport through the Irish Sports Council now amounts to a spend of just €8.73 per citizen. This latest reduction is particularly disappointing given the fact that investment in sport today is likely to have a significant impact in reducing the health spend in future years – a budget line that has caused continuous difficulty for the Government not just in the run up to this budget but over the last number of years.

The overall investment in sport at €40 million for 2014 represents just 0.3% of the €13.3 billion projected health spend.

We are also disappointed that our pre-budget submission in which we set out a proposal where an investment of just €1 per citizen could create 150 jobs immediately seems to have received little or no consideration. These were jobs which Irish Sport felt would be become self-sustaining over a two to three year period and for which, 2,000 graduates with sport specific training are qualifying every year.

That the potential of this proposal has not been grasped is all the more disappointing given the Government’s insistence that job creation is the way out of our current economic troubles.

Cuts to sports funding are at odds with wider government policies and counter intuitive as sporting events have proven to be key drivers in boosting tourism figures during the Gathering. As we slowly emerge from recession it is short sighted and unnecessary to target one of the performing sectors in the economy which has the potential to further create sustainable, indigenous employment and economic growth. The cuts come at a time of increasing market volatility affecting the funding models of many of our leading sporting organisations further jeopardising the future of sports development in Ireland.

We urgently request a meeting with the Minister and his officials to address our concerns and propose alternative innovative ways forward.

Sarah O’ Connor, CEO, Federation of Irish Sport 086-8048446