Sport Ireland Makes Move on Governance

On the eve of our Sport for Business Smart Minds session on Governance Sport Ireland has announced that it is to take over the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations as a Governance Code for Sport.

The Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations is being retired in light of changes tightening legislation governing governance in those areas.

The Government’s National Sports Policy, published in July 2018, tasks Sport Ireland with overseeing a process whereby all National Governing Bodies for Sport and Local Sports Partnerships adopt the Code by the end of 2021 (Action 31).

In taking over the Code, Sport Ireland will ensure that this objective is delivered and that all funded organisations have appropriate governance structures in place.

The assumption is that all the bodies funded by Sport Ireland with public money will be compliant in this timeframe. It is not stated but can be read between the lines that non-compliance will be a barrier to any funding.

Sport Ireland is the independent channel through which the Government via the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport provides funding to sport. So far in 2019 the amount put aside for core programmes, high-performance funding and current rather than capital expenditure amounts to €67.5 Million.

There is currently a suspension of funding to the FAI until such time as questions over the governance at the Association have been resolved.

“Sport Ireland places a high premium on good governance, and encourages high standards in governance from all funded bodies,” said Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy.

“As a development agency, it is our aim to provide leadership in this area, empowering sports organisations to take responsibility for their own governance and meet the challenges that they face.”

“In line with the actions laid out in the Government’s National Sports Policy, Sport Ireland is looking forward to taking over the Code with a view to all funded bodies completing the adoption journey by 2021.”

“To support this, we will be continuing to identify and put in place the training and supports needed by the different organisations to assist with the adoption process.”

“This is an important step for Sport Ireland, which has a long history with the Code, having been the first state body to adopt it as best practice for our sector in 2013,” added Sport Ireland Chairman Kieran Mulvey.

“In taking over the Code, Sport Ireland is reaffirming its commitment to supporting all funded bodies in putting in place and maintaining robust corporate governance structures.”

“I would like to thank the Governance Code Working Group for their hard work over the last ten years in developing and rolling out the Code, which set a high standard not just for sporting bodies, but also for many other organisations.”

The handover of the Code will not have any impact on funded bodies who have fully adopted the Code or are on the adoption journey.

All resources relating to the Code and its adoption will remain on the Code website: www.governancecode.ie.

Charities that have adopted, or are on the journey to adopt, the Code will be directed towards the Charities Regulator’s new governance code.

Chair of the Governance Code Working Group and Chief Executive of Volunteer Ireland, Nina Arwitz said “The members of the Working Group are proud to have led the movement around improved governance for community, voluntary and charitable organisations in Ireland, and played a role in building trust in our sector at a time when it was particularly needed.”

“Ten years since we started this journey in 2009, we can say that our job is done and pass the mantle to the Charities Regulator and also to Sport Ireland.”

With sporting governance very much in the spotlight at present and Government very involved in the issues of the FAI it remains to be seen whether this adoption of a separate path to that laid out for the more tightly regulated charity sector will be seen as the most effective, desirable and optically alright option.

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