The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness committed the Government to the introduction of local sport partnerships to help promote and develop sport at local level. In its first strategy document, A New Era for Irish Sport — 2000-2002, the Sports Council identified the establishment of local sports partnerships as one of its main priorities.
The Irish Sports Council, following evaluation of proposals from local bodies, approved and funded the establishment of eight partnerships in May 2001. A further four were established in early 2002. These are located in Clare, Donegal, Fingal, Kildare, Laois, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary North, Cork, Limerick, Meath and Waterford.
At my Department's request the Sports Council commissioned a review of the operation of four of the original eight partnerships. Arising from this review, I authorised the Irish Sports Council last year to extend the network of local sports partnerships by a further four, bringing the total number of LSPs to 16. These four partnerships are now being established in Kerry, Westmeath, Kilkenny and Mayo. This year, €2.3 million has been allocated to the LSPs to cover the 12 existing and four newly established projects. Since 2001, a total of almost €6.7 million has been allocated to the LSPs by the Irish Sports Council.
An independent appraisal and review of the entire local partnership process will be carried out by my Department later this year to obtain confirmation that this element of sport policy continues to have an impact at local level. The question of extending the partnerships to further areas of the country will be considered in the light of the outcome of that appraisal.