Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and Minister of State for Sport & the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers TD, today announced the allocation of €5,804,828 in funding for the COVID-19 Supplementary Grant Scheme.
In November, an unprecedented €85 million funding package was announced for the Irish sport sector, which has been significantly impacted by the various Covid-19 restrictions imposed since March 2020. €5.8 million of that funding was ring-fenced to address any additional and immediate needs that may arise in the sector as a result of the recent Level 5 restrictions.
Minister Martin commented: “The Government recognises the ongoing struggle experienced by the sports sector and the ongoing uncertainty faced by National Governing Bodies and clubs as we move in to 2021. In November we announced an unprecedented €85 million in funding to support the sector and today’s announcement will further bolster attempts to protect the sector and provide some financial stability. The sports sector, and all of the people working and participating in sport, has shown its ability to adapt and persevere in the face of adversity and find innovative ways to be active and engaged. We must continue this work and look forward to a time when we can all return to spectating and participating in sport together”.
Minister Chambers added: “Throughout the difficult months of 2020, the sports sector has shown its resilience and ability to adapt. National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships have continued to keep their clubs and communities as active as possible and we have seen record numbers of people out walking and enjoying the many benefits of physical exercise. We recognise that the public health restrictions have had a severe impact on Irish sport, with many sports yet to make a meaningful return since the onset of the pandemic. I have launched a consultation with the sport sector to develop a pathway for a broad return to sporting activity in the New Year. I would encourage all the sporting bodies to engage with Sport Ireland in this process over the coming weeks.”
The national move to Level 5 restrictions in October meant that many sports at both a national and club level faced additional financial challenges that had not been accounted for in their original applications or business plans. Additionally, while the initial schemes focused on verified losses to 2020 income, the Supplementary Fund has been expanded to also support immediate 2021 challenges along with a number of additional initiatives focused on protecting Ireland’s vast network of sports clubs.
Chairman of Sport Ireland, Kieran Mulvey, commented: “Sport Ireland has been in ongoing consultation with the National Governing Bodies and has noted concerns about loses some expect to incur in early 2021. The funding announced today will address many of these concerns and allow these organisations start the New Year in a stronger financial position. I would like to thank Ministers Martin and Chambers, and the staff at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for their continued support in ensuring the sports sector survives a difficult year and can return to providing opportunities for the population to enjoy and participate in sport again”.
Funding has also been made available to develop new programmes, projects and platforms that can advance sport and physical activity in the post Covid-19 public health era. Further funding has been ring fenced to support disability sport, local communities and the reopening of swimming pools.
Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy added, “The funding announced in November has supported many organisations to continue to operate. Today’s announcement further supports the sector including extra support for the disability sport sector. COVID 19 has had a disproportionate impact on people with a disability and a portion of today’s funding is ring fenced for organisations delivering in this sector. Similarly, the small grant scheme operated by Sport Ireland’s Local Sports Partnership Network has proved to be invaluable and we are delighted to be able to further support this. We look forward to working with the sector to get sport back on track in 2021”.
A further €1,000,000 in funding was also announced today for the Dublin based Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) toward their Active Cities Project. The Active Cities fund invests in sport and physical activity initiatives in Ireland’s five cities – Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway with the aim of creating, maintaining and increasing the numbers of citizens, regardless of age and ability, participating in sport and physical activity in their city.
Sport Ireland staff carried out a detailed assessment of all applications received during the competitive bid process and recommended 4 projects for approval. Each application received under this strand was evaluated based on a scoring matrix that considered the quality and context of the project.
Speaking of the announcement, Dr. Una May, Director of Participation and Ethics, Sport Ireland commented, “Active Cities aims to create the opportunity for citizens to lead healthier lifestyles in the context of sport & physical activity and is built on the principals of the Global Action Plan for Physical Activity developed by the WHO in 2018. An Active City strives to create social norms around the benefits of sport and physical activities as well as opportunities for everyone to participate, regardless of age or ability. In recent months we have all had a lot more time to get to know our neighbourhood and local environments and we hope that the funding announced today will help the LSPs in their work to to develop environments that lead toward healthier lifestyles for its citizens”.