IRISH SPORTS COUNCIL ISC The Irish Sports Council Announces High Performance Funding for 2005

16 Jun 2005

Minister O’Donoghue: “The focus is on providing comprehensive world-class supports for the most talented athletes from the earliest possible stage. This is the correct investment strategy that will produce the best results in the long term”.     

The Irish Sports Council announced today (June 16) investment of €3.5 million in the performance plans of 13 sports for 2005. This brings to €6.07 million the total invested in high performance sport by the Council in 2005.

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr John O’Donoghue T.D. welcomed the announcement; “Sustained and substantial investment is required in order to succeed in high performance sport. The Government has made substantial funding available for the fourth year to support the Irish Sports Council’s High Performance Strategy.  It will be invested in plans that are consistent with the principles of the Athens Review.”

The ultimate aim of this investment is to produce Olympic and Paralympic finalists. This entails targeting sports that can produce that calibre of athlete on a consistent, and repeatable, basis. In practice this means investing in the current generation of world-class athletes and simultaneously developing junior talent through a structured competition pathway from schools to world level.

Today’s funding is for sports that have prepared comprehensive performance plans for their elite squads based on the philosophy and principles of the Athens Review, published earlier this year.

The critical advance on the Athens cycle is the focus on junior and development athletes. Each funded plan contains supports for young athletes providing them with pathways to elite global level.   

Pat O’Neill, Chairperson, Irish Sports Council,; “Substantial advances have occurred in the support systems for high performance sport in the last few years. Today’s announcement represents the next significant step forward in providing Irish athletes and coaches with a world class high performance sport system”.
John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council commented: “The Athens Review provided us with a roadmap for the future of high performance sport. To build on the progress made to date and to ensure long-term sustainable success it is necessary to focus on the talented young athletes coming through and to put in place the supports needed so that they can reach their potential at world level”.

The Athens Review acknowledged that relationships within Irish sport have improved. Significant progress was based on sound investment decisions made in the Athens cycle. It recommended that a target driven approach was now required with more demanding criteria and enhanced tracking applied to the support systems.

In order to achieve sustainable success talented junior athletes must be the focus of consistent investment and support. These athletes should be in sports with a track record of success, strong sports structures and quality management support systems. 
These recommendations are reflected in each of the approved performance plans. A Performance Director in each sport will implement the plans, supported by coaches and other professional staff. Each plan is target driven and will be assessed on an ongoing basis against the stated goals.
Central to the Performance Plans is the development of a competition pathway with corresponding benchmark performances from junior through to Olympic level. Squads for junior, developmental and senior athletes will be established in each sport. Targets are set at each development point as criteria for athletes to be included in the squad system. 

50% of funding will be made available to the AAI immediately. The other 50% is conditional on certain key milestones been passed in the change management process.

50% of the funding is being made available to the Equestrian Federation of Ireland immediately. The other 50% is conditional on the establishment of a Steering Group to oversee the implementation of the Connellan Report, which highlights the need for a new umbrella body for horse sport in Ireland.

The Council approved total funding of €447,329 for the Olympic Council of Ireland in 2005. The programme of activities includes support for European Youth Olympics and Beijing preparation visits.

The Council will provide funding of €260,000 to the Paralympic Council of Ireland in 2005. €184,000 will cover administration and the programme of activity in 2005.  In addition the PCI will receive €76,000, directed towards targeted athletes and sports. This element of the funding is supported by a Performance Plan operated by the Performance Director, as in the model followed by the NGBs.

As previously announced the Irish Sports Council awarded €1.803 million in individual grants to 161 athletes under the 2005 International Carding Scheme.  The review of the Scheme, which has been in place since 1998, is near completion. A new Scheme will take its place from 2006 as one element of the comprehensive high performance supports provided to elite athletes.  

These strands of investment added together bring the funding being provided directly for High Performance sport in 2005 to a total of €6.07 million. 

For further informant contact

Paul McDermott  Irish Sports Council 087-6486295