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'Special' funding blow

SPECIAL Olympics Ireland was the big loser in yesterday's annual funding announcement from the Sports Council (ISC), with their annual core operating grant slashed by almost 35pc, writes Cliona Foley.

Most of the country's other sports received negligible cuts to their core 'national governing body' (NGB) grants in yesterday's €25.6m package.

Special Olympics Ireland still received the biggest NGB grant of all (€1.5m), but this was more than a third less than their 2010 allocation of €2.3m and accounted for much of the overall drop in NGB funding from €13.29m to €12.1m since last year.

John Byrne, chair of the ISC's NGB sub-committee, stressed that they will consider an additional application to support the Special Olympics team for this year's World Games in Athens, which means more money will be coming their way. He said the association had its funding reduced because, compared to other sports, it has other revenue streams and reserves.

Despite the economic gloom, and a drop of close to 10pc in the 2010 funding, yesterday's package of €12.1m -- €7.8m to high performance and €5.7m to local sports partnerships -- compared well with last year's figures.