Gender quota plan for sports bodies not in department’s strategy

Shane Ross is not in favour of ‘punitive measures’ to promote women’s participation

A plan to increase the participation of women in sport has been omitted from the Statement of Strategy 2016-2019, published by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on Friday.

The Minister of State for Sport, Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan, recently suggested State funding could be withheld from sporting organisations which fail to ensure at least 30 per cent of their board positions are filled by women.

However, the idea was rejected by the senior minister in the department Shane Ross, who said he was not in favour of “punitive measures” to promote women’s participation in sport and in sporting organisations.

The three-year statement of strategy for the department makes no mention of Mr O’Donovan’s proposal or of attracting more women into sport whatsoever.


A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport and Sport said Mr Ross had held a meeting recently with sporting organisations at which the matter was discussed.


“They will work out some way of promoting women’s participation – that will be encouraged,” she said.

The strategy promises that a National Sports Policy Framework will be published next year.

Mr O’Donovan said the proposal to restrict funding would be considered as part of a consultation process on this plan, which was announced six weeks ago.

The strategy statement makes no mention of financial difficulties at Bus Éireann or Irish Rail.

The bus company is facing pay claims from its staff, but says it could be facing insolvency due to losses.

Irish Rail is facing the prospect of having to shut down lines as part of a drive to save money, a prospect that would be fraught with political difficulty.

The rail network needs hundreds of millions of euro invested to protect safety standards on the lines, a recent report found. A further review and consultation has been ordered.

The strategy also suggests that an independent operator could be selected for a third terminal at Dublin Airport.

It says the department will seek to “accelerate planning for delivery of new terminal capacity including consideration of independent operation”.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times