Equality in Sports Funding

Fri, Nov 12, 2021

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Neasa questioning the Department of Sport about their plans to ensure equality in funding for women's and men's Gaelic players' grants; while also getting the chance to wish Na Fianna GAA the best of luck in the upcoming Dublin Hurling Final.


Neasa Hourigan TD: Go raibh maith agat Ceann Comhairle. I would like to ask the Minister her plans to ensure equality in funding of women’s and women’s Gaelic player grants? Will he make a statement on the matter?

Minister of State, Jack Chamber: I thank Deputy Hourigan for her question. Equality in sport is a key priority for both me and the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin. Our overall vision for women in sport is one where women have an equal opportunity to achieve their full potential while enjoying lifelong involvement.

Government support for inter-county female Gaelic games players, which is distributed through Sport Ireland, is an indicator of the recognition at national level of the contribution of the athletes to their sport and their commitment to play the game at the highest level possible.

Last May, I announced my intention to ensure equality in grant funding for female Gaelic games players from this year forward. Additional funding of €1.7 million is being provided in 2021 and for future years for enhanced support of female inter-county Gaelic games players on a basis equivalent to that for male inter-county Gaelic games players. This additional provision brings the total amount available for female players in this context to €2.4 million. Sport Ireland has established a working group, which includes player representation, to finalise the detailed arrangements for the distribution and oversight of this enhanced State funding to the 1,650 female players concerned. I am very pleased that the funding gap has now been eliminated and that, from this year, female Gaelic players will have parity with male players in respect of grant funding. This is important to the development of women’s sport and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to equality in sport.

Neasa Hourigan TD: I thank the Minister of State. His commitment to grant equality is very welcome. The grants are important to the individual players involved. It is important that they be equal. With regard to inter-county players, the grants probably have a larger impact in that they result in players becoming role models for young women in sport.

We are aware that kids start out with an interest in sport. To give an example, the gender balance at nursery level in a GAA club in my constituency, Na Fianna, is a result of great work in that club. Parity was reached for the first time in 2020. While it is positive to see kids starting off in equal numbers, we are aware that women tend to drop out in larger numbers as they get older. Sport Ireland’s research report Adolescent Girls Get Active identifies role models as comprising one support for keeping young women involved in sport. I am wondering about the level of data tracking on the impact of the grants. Are they being allocated in the proper way? What is the position on other infrastructural supports for women in sport?

Minister of State, Jack Chamber: I thank Deputy Hourigan. In many nurseries and clubs across the country, the increase in female participation has been so positive. We are seeing this across so many sports but, as the Deputy said, there is attrition, particularly in the teenage years. That creates the participation gap. Sport Ireland has an Irish sports monitor that produces quarterly reports and examines the gender gap. A priority of mine and of the Minister is to abolish the gender gap when it comes to participation and to track the attrition, particularly in the teenage years. It is also a question of trying to promote participation throughout adulthood. There is a lot of oversight and research by Sport Ireland to ensure active participation so women and girls will be given opportunities to stay in sport. We must track the trends in disadvantaged communities and places where participation levels might be lower and address the issue. We are committed to that.

Neasa Hourigan TD: I am aware that time is limited so, considering that I have been talking about Na Fianna, I hope the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, will join me in wishing them and Kilmacud Crokes, which is in her constituency, all the best in the Dublin hurling final on Saturday. It is Na Fianna’s first time in the final. There is a lot of excitement in our community and we fully intend to beat you.