The Deputy will be aware that the Irish Sports Council, as the statutory agency for the promotion and development of sport in Ireland, is responsible in partnership with both the Olympic Council of Ireland and the relevant national governing bodies of sport, for all matters relating to the preparation and participation of Irish competitors at the Olympic Games.
My Department has already engaged with the Irish Sports Council in regard to Ireland's performance at Athens. The council has initiated a review of Team Ireland's participation in this year's Olympic and Paralympic Games. The review involves questionnaires, one-to-one meetings with the athletes, support personnel, coaches and performance directors.
The aim of the review is to produce an objective assessment of the preparation and performance of the Irish teams at the Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2004, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of all aspects of the programmes throughout the four year cycle, with a view to making recommendations regarding the development of a programme for Beijing in 2008.
Wharton Consulting, a leading consultancy firm based in Britain, is conducting the review under the direction of a steering committee established by the Sports Council and on which my Department is represented. Wharton Consulting was selected by the Sports Council following a public tender process and has considerable experience working with sporting organisations in England, including Sport England. The review is due for completion by 1 December 2004 and it is the intention of the Irish Sports Council to publish the report in due course.