Monday 16 September 2019

Shane Ross pours cold water on plans for gender quotas in sport

The move was proposed by his junior minister

Shane Ross (left) and Patrick O'Donovan (right)
Shane Ross (left) and Patrick O'Donovan (right)
Shane Ross TD Photo: Robbie Reynolds Newsdesk Newsdesk

Sports Minister Shane Ross has poured cold water over his junior minister's plans to impose gender quotas on sporting organisations.

Earlier, proposals were brought to Cabinet that would see any organisations where women made up less than 30pc of the board risk losing their funding.

However, after a meeting with nearly 50 sporting bodies today the Independent Alliance TD said that all agreed "punitive measures" would not help boost the number of women in leadership positions of sporting organisations.

The move may put Mr Ross on a collision course with Fine Gael, as junior minister Patrick O'Donovan had previously told that the plans had the backing of the Taoiseach.

Sports Minister Patrick O’Donovan. Photo: Sportsfile
Sports Minister Patrick O’Donovan. Photo: Sportsfile

The measures devised by Mr O'Donovan, were modelled on a 'carrot and stick' approach whereby the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport would reduce funding to organisations that failed to comply with the new rules.

From 2019, organisations with more than 10 employees would have to ensure that a third of their boards are made up of women. The rule was planned to come into force a year later, in 2020, for smaller bodies with fewer than 10 employees.

The Minister met with representatives of almost 50 sporting organisations to discuss women in sport today.

A new group, called the Sports Leadership Group has been set up to tackle the thorny issue.

"I am delighted with the response from NGBs today who suggested several ways of increasing the representation of women in leadership roles in sport," he said.

"There was a general consensus at the meeting that punitive measures would not assist us in achieving this goal. I look forward to further engagement."

The board of directors at GAA, the IRFU and the FAI have no female representative whatsoever. However, there are many who hold positions outside of the main boards in these organisations.

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