Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Government to match its praise of Ireland’s sporting stars with robust and ambitious investment in sport at all levels.

Deputy Seán Crowe:

“The last couple of weeks have seen some wonderful Irish sporting successes. The performance of the Irish hockey team and their silver medal success captured the hearts of everyone and they have become a really positive role model for young people, particularly girls and women.

“We have also watched some heart stopping hurling and some fantastic football matches. In the World U20 Athletics Championships Sommer Lecky won silver in the high jump and another silver was secured in the 4x100m relay, and in the U18 European Athletics Championships Rhasidat Adeleke from Tallaght won gold in the 200m, Sarah Healy won gold in both the 1500m and 3000m, and Sophie O’Sullivan claimed silver in the 800m.

“The European Athletic Championships are currently taking place in Berlin and a range of other championships are taking place in Glasgow. Shane Ryan has already won a bronze medal for Ireland in the 50m backstroke, the O’Donovan brothers won silver medals in the Lightweight Double Sculls rowing, and there are genuine hopes for some medals on the track.

“These athletes are competing for their country abroad at such a high level, but unfortunately many of them are given too little financial support from the Government and many have to self-fund to attend training camps and events abroad. However Ministers always seem to be close by for the photos when athletes return home with medals.

“Minister Ross’ announcement in Dublin Castle at the homecoming for the hockey team of €1.5 million of extra funding for the forthcoming Olympics was welcome, but it didn’t impress many in the large crowd who were only too aware of his Department’s lack of generosity when it came to funding this hockey team’s considerable world cup costs.

“What we now need is significant investment in sport and exercise in Ireland, from a grassroots level and a focus on wider participation, to funding of our elite athletes.

“Clearly the lesson Minister Ross needs to take from the last is that sport in Ireland, and all our elite sportsmen and sportswomen, need year round support and commitment from the Government, not a one day appearance from the Minister for Sport.”