The Federation welcome the decision, outlined as part of the Revised Estimates process for the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport published on 19th December, to reverse by €2 million the reduction in current funding for sport announced in Budget 2014 on 15th October. We are pleased that the Government have listened to our concerns which have been reflected in an increased allocation for current funding for sport next year.
The current funding for sport, presently distributed through the Irish Sports Council, is particularly essential for the continued development of sport in Ireland supporting as it does the operations of National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) who play a key role in the management, operation and delivery of recreational and competitive sport across the country. These monies not only support jobs within these organisations but also facilitate projects and initiatives such as sports development programmes, coach education and training, volunteer support programmes as well as the development and management of our existing and future international athletes.
The Federation also welcomes the confirmation that further funding, details of which are to be announced in the next few days, is to be made available for a new round of the Sports Capital Programme providing welcome relief to sports clubs around the country who have been significantly impacted by the challenging economic environment. It is also good news that €13 million will be made available to develop the National Indoor Training Centre at the National Sports Campus – a facility that will provide for the first time a world-class base from which our existing and developing international athletes can train and prepare alongside the sport science, medical and administrative support already based at the Campus.
Since the onset of the recession, the Federation has consistently called for the protection of the current funding for sport to be prioritised whilst recognising the importance of capital funding through calls for the reinstatement of the Sports Capital Programme, which lay dormant for three years, and the completion of the National Sports Campus.
However, despite the overall increase in funding for sport in 2014 the on-going reduction of current funding remains a concern – this funding serving as it does as seed capital for the operation and development of sport in Ireland and highlights the need for a real debate on the role of sport in Irish Society with a view to examining ways of attracting additional and alternative revenues into Irish Sport. This is particularly important if sport is to play a significant role in other priority areas for Ireland including public health, job creation and tourism for example.
The Federation of Irish Sport is the representative body for Ireland’s NGBs and LSPs. 2.1 million Irish people participate in over 70 different sports across 12,000 clubs nationwide. Ireland’s sports clubs spend an estimated €818 million in the Irish economy on goods and services each year. Irish Sport also supports 40,532 jobs and contributes an estimated €2.4 billion to Ireland’s GDP each year. Sport contributes heavily to tourism with 254,000 Irish residents travelling domestically to sporting events in 2012 (up 11% on 2010). Sport is also a key driver in international tourism for example, recreational angling is estimated to generate revenues in excess of €755 million and golf €202 million with only 21% of that on golf-related activities.
Revised Estimates- Programme Expenditure- Sports and Recreation Services