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Chapter 6: Sports governance in Ireland: insights on theory and practice
Competitive sport in Ireland is largely played on a semi-professional or amateur basis, but there is a professional layer within rugby union and golf. The sports infrastructure in Ireland is less developed than that of other countries, however, in recent years, facilities have been improved due largely to government and other funding. Houlihan (1997) asserts that until the early 1990s, sports policy in Ireland was fragmented and focused mainly on tourism and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). At that time, a number of sports (football: World Cup 1990 and boxing: Olympic Games, 1992) achieved international competitive success which led to increased pressure on the Irish government to take a more active role in providing facilities and the necessary resources for Ireland’s sporting programme. In 1999, the Irish Sports Council (ISC) was established and its remit set out by statute. Its main role is the implementation of government policy, ensuring that government investment in sport provides ‘value for money’ and leads to effective use of resources. The ISC also supports national governing bodies (NGBs) in providing core services and managing key activities. There are over 60 NGBs in the Republic of Ireland (a complete list is available from the Irish Sports Council, see www. IrishSportsCouncil.ie for details). Many theories and disciplines have influenced corporate governance practice (Mallin, 2004), in addition to institutional history, culture and administrative heritage (see also chapters in this volume, for example Gammelsæter and Senaux, 2013; Walters and Hamil, 2013; Winand and Zintz, 2012).
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