Sports federations that act at a “snail’s pace” to reach the target of 40% women on their bodies could face fines, the Minister of State for Sport warned.
ack Chambers said there will be consequences for sports organizations that don’t make an effort to have more women on boards.
The target of 40% women in funded national sports federations has been set for the end of next year to encourage better gender balance.
Currently, 39 national governing bodies (NGBs) have 30% or more women at board level, with a number of NGBs already reporting a 40/60 gender split on their board, according to Sport Ireland.
When Sport Ireland announced €15million in funding for NGBs on Tuesday, Mr Chambers said there should be adequate female representation.
He said it would better reflect the grassroots of the sport and allow membership and sport to grow in communities.
He added: “We can’t have a blank check when it comes to governance, there has to be an end result, especially when you’ve increased funding.
“The vast majority (of NGBs) have already reached that threshold.
“As funding increases, we cannot allow organizations to continue to ignore this bottom line.
“That’s why I’m giving a clear signal of what we expect in the next 18 months.”
“Others, on the other hand, move at a snail’s pace or not at all and I think where that is the case there must be consequences if they continue to move at a snail’s pace.
Where people get stuck at a percentage well below 30%, that’s not a threshold anyone can acceptJack Chambers
“When they’re making real progress, restructuring their organizations to make the difference and make the change, that’s their collective effort.
“When people get stuck at a percentage well below 30%, that’s not a threshold anyone can accept.
“Setting very clear parameters of what we expect for 2023, and the increased funding that comes with it, I think gives sports organizations a good long runway to pull through.”
Paul McDermott, director of high performance and national governing bodies at Sport Ireland, said they were looking at the efforts of each sporting organisation.
“We’re not surprising anyone, we’re not going to jump behind the bush and say that’s what you have to do to get your money next year,” Mr McDermott said.
He said there was a “strong commitment” from organizations to ensure a better gender balance.
There are a couple of sports that don’t bother us that much and that are pretty far behindPaul McDermott
“A lot of the sports are already here or about to be,” he added.
“The problem for some of them is the timetable to maybe change the statutes or elections and general meetings, so we work with them all the time.
“We don’t face so much resistance because it’s practically difficult.
“We’re getting people to move, so does the diversity inclusion policy, it’s a matter of timing to get them moving forward.
“The sport appreciates that.
“More money has come in in recent years, they have listened to government concerns, which are also our priorities, and they are working with us.
“I would say nothing has proven particularly challenging, it’s the timing and getting them to move because within the governing bodies, a lot of them are at this annual general meeting, new presidents are coming in.
“We’re pretty happy with it.
“It’s by no means fully resolved, but we’re not encountering any resistance.
“There are a couple of sports that don’t concern us that much and that are pretty far behind.
“But most sports make progress.
“They say what their obstacles are.
“We want people to tell us how they’re going to deal with it.
“The idea of the fines comes at the end of next year, that is for the Sport Ireland board to decide.
Ultimately, we have the same goal, but our approach is based on each governing body’s needs and ability to achieve that goaldr Una May
“If a sport says we just don’t take part, we’re not involved, that will have consequences.”
Sport Ireland’s Chief Executive, Dr. Una May said the panel is aware of the impact the pandemic has had on voluntary sport.
“We see that improving and recovering.
“But it’s not back to pre-pandemic levels yet,” added Dr. May added.
“So we have to acknowledge that some of these smaller governing bodies are struggling to fully fill their boards regardless of the balance sheet.
“So we’re very supportive of these types of governing bodies to help them get to the level that we’re aiming for.
“It won’t be the same for everyone.
“Ultimately we have the same goal, but our approach will be based on each governing body’s needs and ability to achieve it.”