I acknowledge the excellent work that Special Olympics Ireland does in promoting sport and competition for people with intellectual disabilities. My Department continues to support Special Olympics Ireland and I am pleased to say that in 2014, the Irish Sports Council is providing funding of €1.4m to the organisation through its programme of core grant funding for National Governing Bodies of Sport. Indeed, Special Olympics Ireland has been the single largest beneficiary of core grant funding from the Irish Sports Council since 2007, receiving over €16m between 2007 and 2014.
Special Olympics is about much more than sport. It has wider benefits for people with an intellectual disability by contributing to their health, well-being, education and social inclusion. I am aware that in Northern Ireland funding for Special Olympics is provided on a cross departmental basis. I would support the implementation of a similar funding arrangement here in recognition of the wider benefits for people who participate in Special Olympics. This is an issue which can be considered in the context of the development of a new Sports Policy Statement, which is underway in my Department.