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Over the years, sporting organisations and volunteers have formed the backbone of sport in Ireland. Building on this legacy enriches the lives of active participants and as well a country which values vibrant, local community identity and the achievements of our sporting heroes.

Sport and recreation also have other benefits for the nation both economic in terms of sports tourism, employment opportunities through growth in the sector, and social in terms of better physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The 2017 Irish Sports Monitor survey reported that almost 11% of adults (equivalent to approximately 400,000 people) regularly volunteered for sport during the year. Similarly, more people are members of sports clubs than any other form of voluntary or community organisation. The same ISM report found that just over 34% of adults (approximately 1.25 million people) were members of a sports club.

Sport can also play a role in tackling societal challenges around anti-social behaviour, particularly when offered as part of broader personal development programmes or in conjunction with community and youth services. Active and social participation by migrants and ethnic minorities can help combat the social exclusion they often experience.

For information on the Sports Capital Programme please go to Sports Capital Programme.

Economic Impact

Sport contributes significantly to the economy. The latest statistics show that:

  • Irish households spend €1.9 billion annually on sport and sport-related goods and services, equal to 2% of the value of consumer spending in the Irish economy
  • sport-related spending contributes €1.8 billion in value added to the Irish economy, equivalent to 1.4% of economy-wide Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • for every €100 invested by Government, it received €149 in return in taxes
  • sport and sport-related activities support over 38,000 full-time equivalent jobs, over 2% of the overall level of employment in Ireland
  • sport-related volunteering activity is estimated to have an economic value of between €322 million and €582 million per annum

Sport also has a special part to play in combating the problems of drug abuse, crime and social exclusion, particularly among young people living in areas of social and economic disadvantage.

The development of high performance in Irish sport is another key element within overall national sports strategy. Top performances in the sporting arena, both nationally and internationally, based on a drugs-free philosophy of sport, provide positive role models as well as enhancing our sense of national achievement, and the image of Ireland overseas.

Ireland's major goals when it comes to sport are to:

  • increase participation and interest in sport at all levels
  • improve standards of performance and to develop sports facilities at national, regional and local level

The National Sports Policy 2018 - 2027 sets out targets for Irish sport to achieve in the coming years. They include:

  • overall participation in sport to rise from 43% to 50% of the population by 2027 (the equivalent of an extra 260,0000 people participating in sport)
  • more targeted high performance funding to deliver more Olympic/Paralympic medals (From the securing of 13 medals in 2016 to a target of 20 in 2028)
  • all funded sports bodies adopting the Governance Code for the Community, Voluntary and Charity (CVC) Sector

Publications (42)

€37 million allocated to Sports Capital Projects

15 November 2019; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Press release;

Accessibility Work Programme

5 September 2019; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Collection;