Special Olympics: State will halt funding if sports fail to meet code of governance

Any national governing body that does not adhere to Sport Ireland‘s new governance programme will have their funding removed, according to Minister of State for Sport, Patrick O’Donovan.

Special Olympics: State will halt funding if sports fail to meet code of governance

Minister O’Donovan made the comments while opening the new Special Olympics Ireland offices at the National Sports Campus, Dublin yesterday, having been quizzed on the possibility of limiting the terms of office of sports administrators.

“It’s not up to me to tell organisations who can or cannot be elected as a chair or as secretary and I am not going to get into that,” added Minister O’Donovan when pressed on specific sports administrators.

“But I think it’s in every sporting organisation’s interest, at the end of the day, that they refresh themselves and they give opportunities for new people to come in with new ideas,” added O’Donovan.

“I don’t want to comment on any individual or any individual organisation but the other night here in Blanchardstown, I launched an initiative between myself and Sport Ireland in relation to governance.

“We are now moving to a situation where we will have mandatory opt-in for codes of governance for different sporting organisations, we’ve given a timeframe of 2019 and 2020, depending on the size of the organisation concerned.

“It will be a condition of funding in the future; the codes of governance that is set out and adopted by Sports Ireland will be a requirement for future rounds of funding.”

While refusing to be drawn on outstanding issues with the Olympic Council of Ireland, O’Donovan did explain the government’s position regarding sports funding.

“We have an expectation as a government that in return for state investments and state support in particular organisations, there are basic requirements we expect to be fulfiled, and going forward, that will not be on a voluntary basis — it will be on a mandatory basis.

“For anybody that does not sign up to the code of governance that’s been adopted by Sport Ireland and heretofore allowed on a voluntary basis, post 2020 anybody who doesn’t sign up to the code of governance will have a 100% cut in their funding.”

The minister officially opened the new Special Olympic HQ, himself a volunteer with Special Olympics Ireland having helped create a Special Olympics branch in his native Limerick nearly 10 years ago.

“It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work in really 38 years of Special Olympics in Ireland,” said chief executive Matt English. “We really kicked on from 2003 when we hosted the Special Olympics World games.”

The new office will see Special Olympics Ireland located in a purpose-built building with their Leinster and Eastern region division. The building was funded by a special €5 million exchequer allocation.

Meanwhile, Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy has revealed Ireland will bid once again to host the European Cross Country Championship at the new national cross country track, located at the national sports campus.

The track, which opened last month, was built without any real demand from the athletics community and is only scheduled to host one more event in this cross-country season. “We have a vision to bid again for the major championship like the European cross country championship and that would be an ideal location to host an event like that,” said Treacy.

Ireland lost out to Samorin in Slovakia for the right to host the 2017 European Cross-Country. The 2018 event will be held in Tilburg in the Netherlands. Dublin hosted the event in 2009.

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