John Treacy to retire as Sport Ireland chief executive at the end of December

Olympic silver medal winner became ceo of Irish Sports Council in 1999

The board of Sport Ireland confirmed on Thursday night that John Treacy will retire as chief executive of the organisation at the end of this December.

Treacy, 64, has been chief executive of Sport Ireland since its establishment in 2015, and previously served as ceo of the Irish Sports Council from 1999, when first established as a statutory body in the country.

He was originally set to retire at the end of 2020, but agreed to a one-year extension during the Covid-19 pandemic given the then precarious position of certain elements of Irish sport including funding.

Throughout his tenure, Treacy has overseen many initiatives that improved the sporting landscape in Ireland, including the introduction of the Irish anti-doping programme, increased financial support for the sector, the implementation of high-performance systems and the roll out of the local sports partnership initiative to promote sport and physical activity in local communities.

Treacy, the 1984 Olympic silver medal winner in the marathon and two-time World Cross-Country champion. also oversaw the introduction of the Irish Institute of Sport (now Sport Ireland Institute), a world-class facility offering support services to high-performance athletes and coaches, along with the National Trails Office.

In recent years, Treacy has also overseen significant development on the Sport Ireland campus.

In confirming his retirement, Treacy said: “It has been a privilege to lead Sport Ireland and the Irish Sports Council throughout a period of significant progress for Irish Sport.

“There have been many highlights, but in particular I am delighted with the significant strides made in women’s participation in sport and disability sport over recent years.

“While it was my intention to retire from the role last year, the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the onset of the pandemic and the need to ensure stability changed those plans. With Sport Ireland now firmly established and the sector in a strong position to tackle any challenges ahead, I believe now is the right time for me to step away.

“I would like to pay tribute to all of the wonderful staff I have worked with over the years. I would like to thank the chairman and members of the board, past and present, for their enduring support. I would also like to acknowledge the staff and volunteers in the national governing bodies, local sports partnerships and funded bodies, and pay tribute to all of our amazing athletes.

“ I am also grateful to all of the ministers and government department officials I have enjoyed meeting and working with throughout years. It is incredibly satisfying that sport has remained a policy priority for Government, an acknowledgement of the strength of the sector. I wish everyone involved in Irish sport the very best for the future.”

Sport Ireland has commenced the recruitment process for the position of chief executive through Lansdowne Executive Search. Among potential candidates are former board member and former Tipperary hurling manager Liam Sheedy.

On Treacy's retirement, chairman of Sport Ireland Kieran Mulvey said: "John Treacy has been a model chief executive that has led Irish sport through action and strategic vision. The sport sector in Ireland is in a very strong position thanks to the leadership that John has demonstrated since taking on the role with the Irish Sports Council in 1999. His contribution to sport in Ireland both as an athlete and as a chief executive is immeasurable.

“While difficult to single out individual achievements, in recent years the establishment of supports and processes to improve governance and accountability in sporting organisations and the development of the impressive facilities on the Sport Ireland campus are just two highlights.

“Looking further back, Ireland’s zero tolerance approach to doping in sport is internationally acknowledged and a testament to the leadership John has shown in this area. The roll-out of the Local Sports Partnership network has seen countless opportunities offered to people with a disability and those from disadvantaged backgrounds that would not have received such an opportunity before.

“On behalf of the board of Sport Ireland, I want to thank John for all he has done for Sport Ireland and sport in Ireland, and wish him well in his retirement.”