Irish Sports Council launched


THEY assembled, bright eyed, in the Martello Room in Jurys Hotel in Dublin yesterday morning to unveil the vision of Irish sport in the new millennium.

Cospoir, set up by Jim Tunney in the late 1970s, is officially dead. In its place, the Irish Sports Council is ready to face the world - and the cynics.

John Treacy, one of those who has pushed out the frontiers off endurance in long-distance running, heads the new, streamlined body. Around him, 14 strands of diverse sporting interests are ready to be pulled into place.

The Council, the brainchild of the Minister for Sport, Bernard Allen, replaces Cospoir, which, lest anybody didn't notice, has been extinct for the last 10 months.

And its stated objective is to define a rational plan for the development of Irish sport, with particular emphasis on implementing the recommendations of the group currently labouring to come up with an agreed strategy.

"The reason sport didn't attract more resources in the past was because there were no plans in place," said Allen with a simplicity which was mildly disarming at that hour of day.

"We intend to redress that omission and put in place a structure which will serve Irish sport well in the years ahead."

Among the priorities listed by the Minister were the need to redefine the role of women in sport, including in the areas of management and administration, and a re-appraisal of sport in the educational system.

Warming to familiar themes, Treacy cited the necessity of providing more opportunities for children to attain a desirable level of fitness at the start of an era in which our approach to sport would have to change.

All the while, the sceptics bit their lips and unashamedly shrank from the questions which might have soured the occasion.

Questions like: Were there not enough talking shops in the country or, more pertinently, would the Government provide the cash to back the rhetoric?

Or, in the case of Liam Mulvihill, newly elevated to membership of the Council, was the GAA really prepared to revisit its roots and provide an athletics track in Croke Park?

In an isolated incursion into the hard world in which we live, Joe Connolly, a member of Council, asked the top table if the new body would have any role in the redistribution of National Lottery funds.

That got short shrift from Bernard Allen and, in that moment, we knew again that we had seen and heard it all before.

. The members of the Irish Sports Council are: John Treacy; Liam Mulvihill, director general GAA; Syd Millar, former president IRFU; Donie Butler, commercial manager FAI; Dermot Sherlock, Olympic Council of Ireland; Gina Menzies, former president Irish Squash Association; Denis McSweeney, former commissar Federation of Irish Cyclists; Mary Davis, Special Olympics; Tim O'Connor, head of Television Sport RTE; Pat Duffy, director National Coaching and Training Centre; Siobhan Tyrrell, marketing and research executive DISC; Anne Egan, councillor, Bray UDC; Tim Nyhan, athletics administrator; Kieran O'Dowd, director of physical education and sport, UCC; Joe Connolly, Community Games.