The GAA, IRFU and FAI are reported this morning in the Irish Independent to have been called before the Oireachtas Special Committee on the Response to Covid-19.

They are scheduled to address the Committee and take questions on how sport has been impacted by the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions on Friday, September 18th.

Many sectors have been before the Committee and been able to state the case on how they have been affected. Sport is now getting the opportunity though already backed up by the fact of a €70 million funding package announced as one of the last acts before the formation of the current Government.

Applications for grants to assist sports clubs across the country closed last week and are presently being evaluated.

Impacted

It has been understood that €40 million of the money will be distributed between the three organisations as having been the ones most impacted in a financial sense by the challenges that 2020 has brought in a public health context.

They will have a chance to amplify the message that sporting clubs and organisations stepped up in a serious community way during the hardest days of lockdown, performing a valuable voluntary support network to ensure the country remained on an even keel.

The loss of income through attendance at matches, potential hits in terms of commercial partnerships and media rights will all be explored and this will be a key moment to get the essence of the impact laid down in easily digestible bite-size commentary.

How the statements and answers are reported in the media will go a long way towards ensuring that sport’s messages of resilience but also of loss are clearly understood within the homes of Ireland and the corridors of power.

Balance

It would also be good in terms of balance if either Mary O’Connor representing other sports under the umbrella of the Federation of Irish Sport or Sarah Keane representing the Olympic Federation in a similar fashion be included in the delegation.

The committee is chaired by independent TD Michael McNamara. It also includes Fergus O’Dowd who chaired the Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport that oversaw the FAO and OCI Oireachtas hearings during the 32nd Dáil.

Other members on the Committee include Colm Brophy, Colm Burke and Jennifer Carroll MacNeill from Fine Gael; Mary Butler, Stephen Donnelly, Norma Foley and John McGuinness from Fianna Fáil; Matt Carthy, Pearse Doherty, David Cullinane and Louise O’Reilly from Sinn Féin; Independents Michael Collins and Matt Shanahan; Duncan Smith from Labour, Ossian Smyth from the Green Party, Róisín Shortall from the Social Democrats and Bríd Smith from Solidarity People Before Profit.

It is a powerful group. It is within our individual power within a democracy to ensure that our own local TD’s are briefed with individual areas of interest. A word in the right ear could prompt the right questions and the right outcomes from what will be an important session for sport.