The Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht, Thomas Byrne TD, will today address the inaugural meeting of the Respect Officials Working Group.

The new Working Group is being set up on foot of an action listed in the Volunteering in Sport Policy, launched by Minister Byrne in January, and is being established in response to a number of unsavoury incidents involving officials.

The Working Group will be chaired by Louise Burke of Sport Ireland.

Minister Byrne will also use the opportunity to reinforce the necessity of having adequate safeguarding measures in place when he meets with the membership of the Working Group which is comprised of representatives from a wide range of sporting organisations in Irish sport.

These include the Heads of referees at the GAA, FAI and IRFU as well as representatives from Rowing, Boxing, Cricket, Basketball, Canoeing, Triathlon and others across the sector.

Prominent GAA referee Maggie Farrelly will also be part of the group.

“I am deeply conscious that many officials in Irish sport are volunteers who give up their own time, with little or no financial reward, for the sake of providing sport in their communities,” said Minister Byrne.

“That volunteering commitment must be valued and cherished. In January, I launched a new Volunteering in Sport Policy with Sport Ireland, which recognises the importance of volunteers in Ireland, and it is essential that we retain and increase the level of volunteering in sport. We cannot allow a lack of respect towards officials diminish sport and I am confident that the strongly representative, expert membership of the Respect Officials Working Group will make a decisive difference in this area.”

“I look forward to discussing this matter with the membership of the Respect Officials Working Group at its inaugural meeting. I will also use the opportunity when I meet with the representatives of Irish sport to underline the absolute necessity of having adequate safeguarding measures in place within every sport. A key priority for me is to ensure that the guidelines, principles and expected behaviours outlined in the National Code of Conduct template for sporting bodies, which I launched last year, becomes a reality in sporting venues countrywide at every participation level.”



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