Sport Leadership Group Unveiled

As we revealed in yesterday’s Sport for Business Daily Digest the first meeting took place yesterday of the new Sport Leadership Group charged with implementing the National Sports Policy.

It is an important gathering of expertise from across the sporting world and the political one and the group will now have nine months in which to determine the pace, the priority and the practical implementation of the 57 recommendations contained in the Policy.

This was published at the end of January and represents a comprehensive look at how sport is managed and supported across Ireland.

The work of the Sport Leadership Group will touch every area of sport in this country from grassroots to high performance, facilities to programmes and National Governing Bodies to local authorities.

It is a wide remit and the danger might have been that in order to satisfy the demands of so many interested parties, the size of the group may have veered towards being too unwieldy.


It is good to see therefore that this has not been the case and every one of the fifteen representatives has a valid voice and a highly credible reason to be at the table.

Mary O’Connor as CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport will be a strong voice for all the NGB’s from Basketball to Baton Twirling as well as Gaelic Games, Rugby and Football.

Sarah Keane has led the transformation of the Olympic Federation of Ireland and will also be an authoritative voice from the world of sport.

They are joined on that side by John Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland, and Shane O’Connor who chairs the Athletes Commission at the Olympic Federation.

Deirdre Lavin from the Sligo Sports partnership will be a voice for the local initiatives that reach more people than they generally gain credit for while Conn McCluskey, CEO of Active Ireland will represent the private sector side of gym and facility provision.

Niamh Daffy, CEO of Cara and John Fulham, Chair of Paralympics Ireland will represent the world of disability sport and inclusion which features as a strong theme throughout.

Finally from the sporting side of the equation Alan Quinlan will add his experience as a top flight player turned media commentator.


Policy will always be delivered by Government and one of the key elements in any successful reach across so many areas of public life is to have buy in from across Departments.

That has been confirmed by the presence of Ken Spratt from the department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Rita Sexton from the department of Education, Kate O’Flaherty from the Department of Health and Geraldine McCarthy from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

The make up of the Group is completed by Danny McLoughlin of the County and City Management Association and Nina Arwitz from Volunteer Ireland.

The group will be co-chaired by Ministers Shane Ross and Brendan Griffin

“The National Sports Policy has clearly defined our collective vision for sport and physical activity in Ireland over the next decade,” said Minister Ross after the meeting.

“I look forward to working with the members of the Sports Leadership Group to ensure that this vision is supported and achieved. This group represents a broad spectrum of relevant Government Departments, Sport Ireland, the wider sports sector, Local Government, the Leisure Sector and the Volunteer Sector who are all key stakeholders in this process.”

“Today’s assembly marks an important step forward in implementing our National Sports Policy.”

“The work of the new Sports Leadership Group is vital in ensuring that the National Sports Policy goes from a statement of intent to becoming genuinely impactful across each of the policy’s objectives,” added Minister of State Griffin.

“Over the next nine months, the Sports Leadership Group will work to agree a prioritised action plan for sport and physical activity that will create a clear and realistic pathway to meeting our 2027 targets.”

“A clear monitoring and evaluation system will be put in place to ensure that we remain on track and our progress will be routinely reported to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy.”

“I look forward to working with the Sport Leadership Group over the next few months in bringing this priority plan to fruition. I was really impressed with the commitment and energy shown at today’s meeting and I am confident that we will make very good progress in 2019.”


As any sports coach or manager will know the selection of a team will always delight those involved more than those on the bench. It is though a game for everyone from one to thirty as we hear so often.

That has to be the case here as well with full support from all sectors vital to helping make the right decisions and bring them best to life.

It could well be the most important group to operate in sport throughout the first three quarters of 2019.

Exciting times…


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