'Irish athletes should compete in Commonwealth Games,' senator proposes
IRISH athletes should compete in the Commonwealth Games, Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan has told sporting organisation chiefs.
He made the proposal, citing the success of the Good Friday Agreement and suggested that Irish hockey and rugby 7s teams could take part.
He asked Sport Ireland boss John Treacy his view on the idea.
Mr Treacy said that the Commonwealth Games is a good competition for developing athletes but said participation of sportspeople from the Republic of Ireland would be a political decision.
"It's definitely beyond my pay-grade," he added.
He said that sport in Ireland has benefited from the Good Friday Agreement pointing out that several of our top athletes are from Northern Ireland.
The Commonwealth is a group of more than 50 countries, most of which were part of the British Empire.
Last year Mr Feighan told the Seanad that Ireland should consider rejoining the Commonwealth
He said relations with Britain are at "an all-time high" and that as a "mature Republic" Ireland "we must seek a debate to discuss the economy and the fact that there are 2.2bn people in the Commonwealth."
Earlier Mr Treacy said government funding should be directed to running, cycling and outdoor adventure pursuits due to the number of people taking up the activities.
The government last month announced the opening of the application process for a new €30m round in Sports Capital Grant funding.
Mr Treacy welcomed the scheme and said funding of facilities should be guided by the need to best support increased participation in sport and support for elite athletes.
He said multi-sports facilities should be prioritised "recognising that adults transition between sports throughout the course of their life".
He continued: "It is the view of Sport Ireland that consideration needs to take into account they type of activities which adults are increasingly gravitating towards such as running, cycling, outdoor adventure pursuits and recreational walking among others," he added.
Mr Treacy made the remarks while appearing at the Oireachtas Transport, Tourism and Sport Committee this morning.
He said the biggest challenge facing sport is the threat of doping.
Sport Ireland hosted the leaders of 19 other National Anti-Doping Organisations earlier this month and Mr Treacy said the meeting led to a "strong statement" on how the anti-doping system can be reformed and how non-compliance can be met with "the strongest possible action".
On the proposal floated by sport minister Patrick O'Donovan late last year that the boards of national governing bodies have gender quotas, Mr Treacy said his organisation supports "the core concept of gender representation on boards".
However, he said there needs to be an acknowledgement that the the process of increasing gender balance on boards "will take time".