Taoiseach opens Irish Sport HQ at Sports Campus in Blanchardstown

Minister Varadkar; An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny; Campus Chairman Sean Benton; and Campus CEO Barry O’Brien.

  • Nineteen governing bodies of sport join the FAI on site
  • Campus Infrastructure and Access Roadways installed
  • Sites allocated to GAA, FAI, IRFU and IHA for development
  • Multi-Sport Pitches and Pavilion will be open to the public by end of 2013
  • High performance training facilities for Horse Sport Ireland/Pentathlon Ireland scheduled for completion by August.

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD, officially opened Irish Sport HQ at the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown earlier today Wednesday, 29 May, 2013. He was accompanied by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, TD, who has responsibility for the development of the National Sports Campus.

Performing the opening of Irish Sport HQ the Taoiseach said, “Ireland is a country that is passionate about sport and it is fitting that where possible we should have world class facilities to support, encourage and inspire everyone to get involved in sport. This Government has put a renewed focus on supporting sporting activities nationwide and I’m delighted that significant progress has been made in the development of the National Sport Campus over the past 12 months. The opening of the Irish Sport HQ and the arrival of 19 national governing bodies is a major step in the development of the Campus. Today’s milestone will also help foster the sense of community and cooperation which I know already exists in Irish sport.”

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said: “When I was appointed Minister I developed a new vision for the National Sports Campus. We decided there wasn’t going to be any new stadium. Instead, we made lands and facilities available and invited the governing bodies to develop them.

“The Campus is one of my four main sporting priorities, alongside the re-launch of the Sports Capital Programme, protecting funding for sport through the Sports Council, and promoting sport as an exam subject in schools. We have seen huge developments, and I’m delighted to be here today for the opening of Sport HQ. The Campus is now well on the way to being a national training centre for sport. It shows what can be achieved when you work on a realistic scale, within realistic budgets, in partnership with the sporting bodies.”

Work is currently underway on the Multi-Sport Pitches and Sport Pavilion and the planned High Performance facilities for Horse Sport Ireland and Pentathlon Ireland are scheduled for completion in August. These facilities will be of great benefit to the entire Greater Dublin region, and beyond.

Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said: “The arrival of a further 19 National Governing Bodies on the Campus is another important milestone, along with the development of the new access road. This really is a unique project which has the full backing of all the stakeholders in Irish sport including the Irish Sports Council, the Olympic and Paralympic movements and, most importantly, the sports bodies and the athletes themselves.”
Speaking at the official opening Mr Sean Benton, Chairman of the National Sports Campus Development Authority, said the NSCDA believed that “providing office accommodation for our NGBs and support agencies in a “communal” setting is important for the development of sports policy and administration. It enables and encourages greater communication between sports bodies; it fosters a spirit of togetherness; it facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience and ideas; and it also makes good economic sense. ”

Mr Benton went on to say that a great deal of progress had been made on the Campus project over the last 18 months. “Our stated aim is to deliver a Campus for the benefit of not just our sports bodies and administrators, but especially for our elite athletes from all disciplines, and also for the general public. To that end the last 18 months have seen –

- The commencement of the works to deliver a multi-sport, all-weather facility which will be available to sports bodies, local clubs and the general public by the end of 2013.

- The completion of vital Common Infrastructure works and an Access Roadway to open up the site for development.

- The Allocation of Sites to the GAA, FAI, Irish Hockey and the IRFU to develop top-class training facilities.

- The commencement of works on developing High Performance training facilities for Equestrian sports and Modern Pentathlon.

- The provision of dry-land training facilities for diving and gymnastics.
- The exploration of funding options for the development of the proposed National Indoor Training Arena.

He concluded his remarks by noting that this year the National Aquatic Centre, the first part of the Campus project, celebrates its tenth birthday.

“The National Aquatic Centre has been a huge success attracting a footfall of over seven million visits since it first opened its doors. It is an example to us all of just what can be achieved by this country if we are brave enough to invest money in the right sporting facilities.”

Further information

The 19 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of Sport which have moved into the new Irish Sport HQ are:

- Angling Council of Ireland
- Badminton Ireland
- Canoeing Ireland
- Cerebral Palsy Sport Ireland
- Federation of Irish Sport
- Gaelic Athletic Association
- Gymnastics Ireland
- Irish Ice Hockey Association
- Irish Judo Association
- Irish Olympic Handball Association
- Irish Sports council / Coaching Ireland
- Irish Squash
- Mountaineering Ireland
- Paralympics Ireland
- Pitch and Pitt Union of Ireland
- Student Sport Ireland
- Swim Ireland
- Table Tennis Ireland and
- The Camogie Association

The concept of a National Sports Campus was first mooted in 1999. In November 2005 the Government approved the commencement of the development of Phase One of a National Sports Campus. A Masterplan for the site of 500 acres was drawn up in April 2008. Planning Permission for the whole development site was successfully achieved in August 2009. Due to the economic downturn it was decided that work on the Campus should proceed on a phased basis. The anchor building on the Campus, the National Aquatic Centre had already been delivered in 2003 in time for the Special Olympics World Games. As part of the overall development of the Campus on a phased basis it was agreed that the major field sports – Gaelic Games, Rugby, Soccer and Hockey would each be granted permission to develop their own part of the Campus. To that end the Minister has allocated each association €500k as a “Matching Funding” grant towards their development of the site. All works will be carried out in line with the overall Masterplan for the Campus.