Waterford Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh
Waterford Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh has welcomed the announcement of an €85 million funding package for the Irish sport sector, which has been significantly impacted by the various Covid-19 restrictions imposed since March.
The funding was announced by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin and Minister of State for Sport and Gaeltacht Affairs Jack Chambers.
Speaking after the announcement, Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said the funding will benefit small and large sporting organisations throughout the country, and will help clubs get back on their feet as society lives with Covid-19 over the coming months. "We all know of small sporting clubs who rely on donations and membership fees to survive, and most of them saw a significant downturn in their income while their costs will have increased due to having to provide sanitiser, signage and PPE as well as other costs associated with Covid-19," Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said.
“The joy felt by so many over the weekend as they had GAA games to watch and enjoy highlighted the void left by the significant reduction in sport since March and it has given us a new appreciation of the place sport holds in our hearts. The changes in Covid-19 restrictions has impacted on their ability to operate and plan, but hopefully this funding will bring some stability to clubs and organisations and will help ensure they return to normal activities when we come out the other side of this crisis," Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said.
Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said he is particulary pleased to see that Sport Ireland has ring-fenced a proportion of funding for the disability sport sector. "This is a welcome outcome from the Disability Sport Working Group, which was established to identify challenges for the clubs working in this area. In addition, funding will be provided to Age and Opportunity and Ireland Active to deliver projects for older adults, another group which has been severely affected by Covid-19," he added.
The funding will be allocated by Sport Ireland and will address the existential threat to national governing bodies and their club networks, allowing sports organisations to off-set significant losses incurred in recent months and add a semblance of certainty to planning for 2021. The significant investment will reach all levels of the sport sector with national governing bodies, local sports partnerships and thousands of grassroots clubs across Ireland set to benefit.
The funding will be administered through a number of schemes, which will see funding for Gaelic Games (GAA, camogie and ladies gaelic football) and inter-county championships, funding for IRFU national governing body provinces and club network, and funding to the FAI to include a ring-fenced amount to support clubs.
It will also see the creation of a National Governing Body Resilience Fund, which will support 20 national governing bodies to cover loss of income from events, ticket sales, sponsorship, affiliation and membership fees, courses and services, and the additional costs arising from the implementation of social distancing and Covid-19 protocols.
The Club Resilience Fund supports sports clubs that find themselves in need of assistance due to Covid-19, while the Restart and Renewal Fund will support over 1,600 clubs and provide dedicated funding for disability and older adults in sport.
The Sports Innovation Fund will promote and develop new programmes and projects that can advance sport and physical activity in the post-Covid-19 public health era through local sports partnerships.