Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and Minister of State for Sport and Gaeltacht Affairs, Jack Chambers T.D, together with Sport Ireland, have announced almost €80m for the sport sector under two separate support programmes.
Some €73.6m in Covid funding is being allocated under five separate streams to help sports organisations to recover and grow post pandemic, support our grassroots network of clubs and local sports partnerships, and ensure people of all ages and abilities return to sport and physical activity.
A further €5.3m is being provided to sport National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) for the provision of sports equipment including the roll out of defibrillators for clubs, kits for school children and state of the art equipment for our high-performance athletes.
Today’s announcement follows a commitment from both Ministers of a €65 million COVID-19 investment programme. Additional investment has been provided through the 2021 Sport Ireland budget providing total COVID support of €73.617 million to the sector. The timing of the schemes provides stability and certainty to the sports sector as it emerges from the pandemic and plans for 2022.
As a nation so fond of sports, we are very supportive of our clubs, our competitors and of course everyone who enjoys physical activity. But the last two years have been two of the most challenging for all sports organisations and the announcement of this funding will come as a relief for the sports sector. It’s important that the sport sector is on a firm financial footing. The additional funding, coupled with the increase in the budget for sport in 2022, will ensure the long-term viability of our sports organisations, high performance sport and will make sure sport remains accessible to all. These emergency funds will reach all corners of the country, a myriad of activities and ensure clubs and grassroots groups continue their great work.
I welcome today’s allocations announced by Sport Ireland, which recognise the immense contribution that sport and physical activity has made to Ireland’s response to the pandemic. All facets of society continue to adjust as the public health situation evolves and our National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnership and sports clubs are to be commended on how they have adapted. Government understands that this has been challenging for all and the funding allocated today will assist the sector as it continues to play an important role in supporting all members of society getting and staying active.
Specific investment has also been provided for the disability sport sector in line with the SportForAll initiative with, amongst others, Special Olympics Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair Association and Paralympics Ireland receiving financial support. A number of the approved equipment grants are also specifically targeted at disability sport.
This investment recognises the disproportionate and unanticipated extent of COVID-19 restrictions on their activities and the difficulties associated with a resumption and return to normal levels of activity.
Sport Ireland has engaged extensively with the sector since the onset of the pandemic to understand the pressure points and where organisations need support. This is reflected in the allocations made today by Sport Ireland, which also factor in the wider economic and social impact of sport. It was a priority of the Board of Sport Ireland that the needs of the disability sector were specifically addressed, with ring-fenced funding being allocated in the allocations. The recent budget announcement by the Ministers of an increase in the overall sports funding for 2022 has further reinforced that sense of confidence that support is available. We look forward to working with our funded bodies and a positive 2022.
The total amount of money available is designed to protect the existing physical and operational infrastructure of Irish sport. This is in recognition that any reconstruction of Irish sport would ultimately cost more over the long run.
While organised sport has returned in a meaningful way in recent months, the impact of the restriction of the last two years is still being felt across the sector. Indoor sports in particular have been disproportionately affected, while a large number of outdoor sports have seen their commercial programmes hit. The funding announced by Sport Ireland will alleviate the pressure on these sports and help the wider club infrastructure to sustain their commendable efforts in providing for their membership. As throughout the pandemic, Sport Ireland remains available to our national sporting organisations to provide support and guidance where necessary.
The COVID funding announced today is in addition to the COVID-19 contingency fund which was directed towards exceptional costs generated by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which were postponed for 12 months until this year. This contingency fund ensured National Governing Bodies were supported to address costs incurred that were beyond the scope of Sport Ireland’s High Performance Programme funding and other programme resources. Full details are set out in Appendix I.
In relation to the separate equipment funding, Sport Ireland was requested to identify and prioritise proposals from NGBs and LSPs which would advance the Government’s National Sports Policy with a focus on the areas of participation, inclusion, female involvement in sport and delivery of the Sport Ireland High Performance Strategy 2021-2032.
Following completion of their assessment process, Sport Ireland recommended grants totalling €5.3m broken down as follows:
Full details of these equipment grants are shown in Appendix II.