Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan: Change of mindest needed over women in sport
Made contact with FAI on Wednesday regarding issue over woman’s football team
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan made contact with the FAI on Wednesday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan made contact with the FAI on Wednesday to encourage them to sort out the problem regarding the women’s national football team.
Speaking at Sport Ireland’s announcement for Sports funding for 2017 and the launch of the Rio Review Mr O’Donovan said that it was “not good” that international football players should have to change in the public toilets at airports in order to return tracksuits to their national governing body, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).
He added that there needs to be a change in mindset regarding women in sport in Ireland.
“It’s not good. It’s 2017 and that’s not good,” said Mr O’Donovan. “Everybody’s reaction to this when it came out in the media over the last 24/48 hours, everybody’s reaction was the same; it’s not good.
“We want it fixed and we want a process put in place. From what I gather that process has been committed to and what we’d encourage now is give people the space and the time, a short period of time, to get on with it and come to a resolution and to ultimately focus on Monday.”
Mr O’Donovan said that he had raised the matter of gender quotas on a number of occasions with sports organisations and that they needed to review the role women play in sport in Ireland.
“I’ve made my position very clear in relation to it,” he said. “I firmly believe there needs to be a change in mindset in Ireland in how we view the role of women in sport, both from a participation level and a governance point of view as well. I’ve enunciated this on more than one occasion.”
Mr O’Donovan also added that he did not think it was a good idea for the national football team to go on strike and encouraged mediation.
“Look I think it’s in everyone’s interests first of that there would be no strike. The players concerned, I’m sure their only concern is to be in the best possible place they can be to prepare for the game next Monday,” he said.
“This morning I made contact with the FAI and I also asked Sport Ireland to make contact with the FAI to encourage as much as possible the facilitation of mediation. And as I walked into the room the news reports were that that was moving in the right direction.”
He added that in the event of negotiations breaking down between the FAI and its players, his department, despite awarding the FAI large amounts of public money, would not intervene.
“Our office don’t tell national governing bodies of sports what to do and what not to do,” said Mr O’Donovan.
“But I think I’ve made it as clear as possible on behalf of the Department. We want this issue sorted, we want the focus to be back on the field and we want the basic issues which seemed to have been put out into the public arena addressed.”