Last week’s research into the growth of walking and other low impact forms of physical activity coincided with the publication of a new Participation Plan from Sport Ireland that seeks to continue the advance in public activity.

Sport Ireland’s Participation Plan 2021-2024 – Increasing Participation in Changing Ireland outlines how Sport Ireland will continue to help people get active by removing barriers to participation in sport and physical activity in the coming years.

The Sport Ireland Participation Plan actions will be delivered through Local Sports Partnerships, National Governing Bodies, strategic partners, clubs, communities and individuals.

“The Programme for Government set new and ambitious objectives for sport, most notably an increase in the participation goals from 50% of adults regularly playing sport to 60% by 2027,” said Minister Catherine Martin speaking about the new Plan.

“The launch of this Plan is a huge step towards achieving those targets. As we start to see the gradual return to sport with outdoor facilities re-opening and adults as well as children returning to training, we must all continue to make sport and physical activity a part of our daily lives”.

“The comprehensive actions outlined in the plan are underpinned by the commitment of Government to double the annual investment in sports participation by 2027 as set out in the National Sports Policy,” added Minister of State Jack Chambers.

“This investment will provide security to LSPs and NGBs to drive the increase in participation. The vision of creating a country where everyone can regularly enjoy taking part in sport and physical activity for life is one that is shared not only by Sport Ireland and the Department but also the many stakeholders and organisations who will support the delivery of the Plan over the coming five years.”

The Sport Ireland Participation Plan is built on, and guided by, the National Sports Policy 2018-2027 (NSP) and the Sport Ireland Strategy 2018-2022. The Participation Plan takes into consideration Healthy Ireland – A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013–2025 and the National Physical Activity Plan as well as global and national developments.


There are six pillars to the plan. Active Policies, Principles, People, Places, Partnerships and Promotion.

These feed into 54 specific actions that have been timelined for delivery over the four year period of the plan.

Among those that stand out as being of real and measurable immediate benefit are to develop a digital geodatabase of outdoor sport and recreation amenities in Ireland capable of being used and shared through many digital platforms and systems between organisations, and to invest in NGBs and LSPs to aid collaboration with
businesses, state agencies and organisations to co-create a culture of active workplaces.

Knowing where to undertake activity in an optimum fashion is of clear benefit and tieing that to our dependence on mobile devices is smart.

Equally developing ways in which workplaces of a traditional and a potential post-Covid landscape can encourage physical activity is a direct way to making it part of people’s everyday activity.

Clearly, the latter does not address as well the lower socio-economic differential that impacts on activity but that is to the fore in the way that Sport Ireland is thinking.

“The decrease in participation across lower socio-economic groups is an area of concern and one that will be addressed by the Participation Plan,” said Sport Ireland Director of Participation and Ethics, Dr Una May.

“The plan aims to work with those most at risk of having lower sports participation and physical activity levels. By working closely with our stakeholders and partners, we will support innovative, inclusive and collaborative programmes, which will address the challenges posed by demographic, social and economic changes in the years to come.”

The one ‘place’ that can address this best is in schools and there is an action to “support the development of Secondary School PE Curriculum resource material in line with the new PE Curriculum.”

This is not a plan to provide overnight success but can lay a strong foundation that will improve the provision and programming of effective physical activity across the whole of society for many years to come.

You can Download the Sport Ireland Participation Plan 2021-2024 here.


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