Leave our games alone, Ministers, we pay our way
Published 27/11/2010 | 05:00
The famous Justice Earl Warren, the judge who ruled in the US Supreme Court that racial segregration was unconstitutional and thus launched the great Civil Rights movement, made another famous statement well remembered and appreciated after all those years.
He said: "I always turn to the sports section first. The sports pages record people's accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man's failures"
An appropriate viewpoint for most of us in this Banana Republic of ours.
But, rein in your horses. The doleful bells are tolling. Irish sport is joining the four-year blight. The manifesto proclaimed from the dais on Wednesday is that €76m is to be slashed with guillotine conclusiveness from Sport and Arts.
The Irish Sports Council, the body which works out and supplies the grants to sport is to have its allocation chopped and grants to local sports organisations are also to be cut.
We don't know the exact amount of the cuts because, as you know, our money masters are remaining coy until they produce the budget, or, at least, that's what I think they have in store for us. A Federation of Irish Sports have written to the government pointing out the contribution that sport makes to the economic, cultural, health of the nation and the development of tourism.
Those sporting bodies included the GAA, the IRFU, FAI; Olympic Council, Golfing Union, and Special Olympics. The letter mentions that more than 270,000 volunteers give their free time on a weekly basis to assist the 1.7 million participating in the various sports in the 12,000 clubs in every parish in Ireland.
The golfing community in Ireland welcomes about 150,000 visitors every year which contributes millions to the economy. More than 13,000 ran in the Dublin marathon last month, many from overseas and last year 830,000 visitors came for hill and cross-country walking and spent an estimated €494m.
The government grant which is to be reduced to sport is -- or has been -- €49.6m, but don't they get a great return from sport which is an industry worth more than €1.8bn a year?
And our masters in Leinster House might consider that, when our national reputation is at its lowest ever, our sporting ambassadors still do us proud. Not alone in their sporting skills and prowess, but in a general national sportsmanship from our men and women.
Take our golfers across the island, Graeme McDowell, the US Open champion (put that in yer pipe and smoke it, Sarah Palin).
Katie Taylor, world champion for the third straight year and World Boxer of the Year to boot.
Grainne Murphy's medals in swimming and those gentle fighting Irish boxers, five medals at the European Championships, a second place to Russia in the medals table.
Sport, Ministers, is not accepting a charitable donation.
It more than pays its way towards the well-being of the country.