The Irish Sports Council is incorporated under the Irish Sports Council Act 1999. Competitive sport means all forms of physical activity which through organised participation, aims at expressing or improving physical fitness and at obtaining improved results in competition at all level.
Recreational sport means all forms of physical activity which, through casual or regular participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being and at forming social relations.
The purpose of the Sport Ireland Act 2015 was to provide for the establishment of Sport Ireland and for the dissolution of the Irish Sports Council and the National Sports Campus Development Authority. Sport Ireland assumed responsibility for the relevant functions currently performed by the Irish Sports Council and the National Sports Campus Development Authority. Under the 2015 Act, references in legislation to the Council or the Authority shall be construed as references to Sport Ireland.
The Irish Sports Council or Comhairle Spóirt na héireann was incorporated as a body corporate. Its functions are to
- encourage promotion, development and co-ordination of competitive sport and the achievement of excellence in it.
- develop strategies for increasing participation in recreational sport and to co-ordinate implementation by all public and publicly funded bodies involving in promoting recreational sport and providing recreational facilities.
- to facilitate through promulgation of guidelines and codes of practice, standards of good conduct and fair play in competitive and recreational sport.
- to take such action as it considers appropriate, including testing, to combat doping in sport.
- where it considers appropriate, to initiate, encourage research concerning either competitive or recreational sport.
- to facilitate research and disseminate information concerning either both competitiveness or recreational sport,
- to perform any additional functions that might be conferred by the Minister having consulted with the Council.
The 2015 Act sets out the functions of Sport Ireland. Sport Ireland’s functions will include
- the development of strategies for increasing participation in sport;
- encouraging the promotion, development and co-ordination of sport;
- supporting elite athletes in achieving excellence in sport;
- facilitating good conduct, fair play and the elimination of doping in sport through the promulgation of guidelines and codes of practice and planning education and information programmes;
- developing and disseminating guidelines and codes of practice promoting best practice for the protection of children in sport;
- developing tutors and coaches and ensuring that tutor and coach education programmes are in place;
- taking actions to combat doping in sport and directing and managing the collection and testing of samples.
The Council is to have all the powers necessary for, the performance of its functions. It may co-operate, advise and subject to criteria and conditions established, provide assistance to any person or body including a public body in relation to matters affecting its functions.
It may establish trust funds to encourage sponsorship for competitive sport or recreational sport. It may accept gifts of money or land on such conditions as might be specified by the donor. It may charge such amounts as it thinks appropriate for its service.
It shall not enter a contract including a sponsorship agreement or arrangement or accept a sponsorship, if any term would be inconsistent with Government policy including specific guidelines on sponsorship or with the Council’s functions or any actions taken in pursuance of those functions.
The Council shall not accept a gift if any trust or condition would be inconsistent with Government policy or with the Council’s functions or any actions taken in pursuance of it. The Council may recover, as a debt, from persons, any amount due and owing to the Council and any refund due and owing to the Council.
The Council shall comply with directives concerning the employment of consultants and advisers as may be given by the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance.
The Council shall establish such criteria, terms and conditions for the provision of assistance as it considers appropriate. It may establish different criteria, terms and conditions in relation to different classes of applicants and recipients.
The 2015 Act provides that Sport Ireland shall set the criteria, terms and conditions for provision of assistance, including funding, to bodies or individuals and that these criteria, terms and conditions may be published on the website of Sport Ireland.
Where, the Council in its opinion is of the view that a body that is applied for or received assistance fails to meet the criteria, terms and conditions above, it may withhold assistance or refuse to provide assistance; demand a refund of assistance provided.
The Council may require a person seeking assistance to supply such information as it may require and may refuse or withhold assistance if this is not furnished. If the Minister so requests, the Council shall furnish the Minister with advice on any matter relating to its functions as may be specified in the request and information, concerning the performance of its functions.
The Minister may, in each financial year, pay out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, such amounts as the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, determines for the purposes of expenditure by the Council in the performance of its functions.
The Council consists of a Chairman and ten ordinary members. The members are appointed by the Minister and are persons who, in the Minister’s opinion, have expertise in the relevant field of expertise.
Of the Council, at least three are to be men and three are to be women. The members of to hold office on such terms as the Minister may, with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, specify. The period of office is to be such period, not exceeding five years, as the Minister, determine.
A person may who has served two consecutive terms is not be eligible for reappointment. The Council conditions of office, provisions on meetings and procedures, its official seal are set out.
There is to be a chief executive, who is appointed by the Council with the Minister’s approval. He carries on and manages to control generally an administration of the finance of the Council.
The chief executive makes proposals to Council on matters relating to its activity. He shall hold office under a contract to be approved by the Minister and the Minister for Finance.
The Council may establish committees to assist and advise it in relation to its functions. A specific mandate is given to the Anti-Doping Committee.
There is provision for staff to be appointed by the Council, with the approval of the Minister and Minister for Finance. They are to be paid out of the money at the Council’s disposal. There is provision for a superannuation scheme.
Sport Ireland may appoint consultants and advisers and requires it to comply with any directives given by the Minister regarding the employment of consultants and advisers. It provides that remuneration due in respect of such services will be paid by Sport Ireland.
Sport Ireland is a State authority which is entitled to enter into Public Private Partnership arrangements and provides for the necessary amendments to the Schedule to the State Authorities (Public Private Partnership Arrangements) Act 2002.
Sport Ireland may establish a subsidiary, enter into joint ventures or partnerships in exercising its functions.
Sport Ireland may, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, borrow money for the purpose of performing its functions.
Sport Ireland may appoint and remove staff, determine the grades and number of staff in each grade, and determine the terms and conditions of service, with the approval of the Minister and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
Strategy and Accountability
The Council is to prepare and submit for approval with or without an amendment, a strategy statement for a three-year period.
It is to provide an annual report on accounts to the Minister. The Council is to submit its accounts to the Comptroller and Auditor General. Audited accounts are to be presented to the Minister, who is to cause them to be laid before the House of the Oireachtas.
Sport Ireland is to comply with policy directives. Sport Ireland is to provide advice and information to the Minister.
Sport Ireland must prepare and submit for the approval of the Minister, a strategy statement for each five year period. The first strategy statement was to be submitted within six months of Sport Ireland’s first meeting.
There is to be a service level agreement between the Minister and Sport Ireland.
National Sports Campus
Sport Ireland has responsibility for the development of the National Sports Campus; managing, operating and maintaining the sports campus; furnishing and equipping the sports campus; and encouraging and promoting the use of the sports campus. Sport Ireland will also have responsibility for conducting research on sport as directed by the Minister.
Sport Ireland can compulsorily acquire any land adjoining the National Sports Campus site for the purpose of providing a means of access and egress from and to the public road.
Sport Ireland can withhold consent to the renewal of a lease or tenancy agreement, subletting or change in use in respect of the National Sports Campus site or any part of it, where it would prejudice the management or operation of the site.
Sport Ireland shall continue the development of the National Sports Campus in accordance with the plan prepared by the Authority. Sport Ireland may amend the plan from time to time and shall submit the amended plan to the Minister for approval. Before commencement of each phase of development of the sports campus, Sport Ireland shall prepare and submit a detailed programme of works to the Minister for approval.
In amending the plan or preparing a programme of works, Sport Ireland shall consult with relevant sporting organisations as it considers appropriate. The Minister may approve any amended plan or programme of works with such modifications as he/she considers appropriate.
Sport Ireland is designated as the national anti-doping organisation for the State and provides that it shall perform the functions and obligations of such an organisation referred to in the world anti-doping code, UNESCO anti-doping convention and Irish anti-doping rules.
Sport Ireland shall implement such measures as it considers appropriate for the delivery of a comprehensive, co-ordinated and effective response to doping in sport and may provide services, including testing and education, to organisations which comply with the World Anti-Doping Code. It obliges Sport Ireland to promulgate and may amend as necessary the Irish Anti-Doping Rules. Provision is also included for the sharing of information between Sport Ireland and relevant bodies and organisations.
Any person who is a member of, or participates in activities and events organised by, a national governing body of sport which is in receipt of funding from Sport Ireland or who represents the State in sport is subject to the Irish Anti-Doping Rules and any person who fails to comply with those Rules shall not be eligible for funding from Sport Ireland or to represent the State in sport.