OCI should contribute to Irish sport, ‘not take money out’

Nine months since coming through the most tumultuous period in its history, the Olympic Council of Ireland wants to become financially independent from all Government funding in the coming years.

Most of the existing executive was ousted last February in the wake of the Rio ticketing scandal and replaced by a new board at an Emergency General Meeting.

Delegates at another Emergency General Meeting next Tuesday will be given the details of the OCI’s vision for the future in the form of a strategic plan for 2018 -2024.

This will include the OCI’s stated aim to not only become financially independent in the coming years but to contribute to the national sporting budget.

“One of the big challenges we face, but it is one we feel strongly about, is to become financially independent of the government,” OCI president Sarah Keane said yesterday.

“We believe we should be a net contributor into Irish sport, not take money out of it.

“We believe there will be enough money coming through from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and at European Olympic level to sustain us if we keep doing our job properly,” she added.

“And then, if we can restore the reputation of our organisation from a sponsorship perspective, to ultimately then become a better advocate because there is not enough people advocating for Irish sport.

“I don’t think sport is high enough on the Government agenda, I think it has been treated shabbily in the fact that, in 10 years, there’s been no increase in funding,” Keane said.

“There’s been some increase in (Government) capital funding,” she accepted. “That’s great to see and we all welcome that but it’s not enough. We’re long gone past the day when sport just happens.

“We are asking more and more of our volunteers, asking more and more in terms of legislation and welfare, and more and more of people on boards and staff in sporting organisations. So it (funding) is not good enough.

“It’s very hard on people to come out and lobby and advocate when they’re dependent on Government money,” she noted. “The Olympic Council does not want to be dependent on Government money, it wants to be able to advocate on behalf of the Irish Olympic movement and all the federations involved.”

The OCI posted losses of €800,000 for 2016 due to the fallout from the Rio ticketing scandal. The government initially withheld €500,000 of outstanding funding to them to sort out their governance issues but agreed to reinstate that two months ago.

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