I propose to take Questions Nos. 534 and 535 together.
Get Ireland Active! – the National Physical Activity Plan for Ireland was launched on 14 January, 2016. The key target identified in the Plan is to increase the number of people taking regular exercise by 1% per annum over the lifetime of the Plan, to be achieved by making physical activity a normal part of everyday life and giving people more opportunities to be active.
The goal is to create an environment where everybody lives, works and plays in a society that facilitates, promotes and supports physical activity and an active way of life, with less time spent being sedentary.
The NPAP has a wide scope, including action areas that address public communication, children and young people, health, the environment (both natural and built), workplaces, community sport and physical activity and research, monitoring and evaluation. These action areas have been implemented through partnership with a wide range of stakeholders from across the various sectors and significant progress has been made.
Key achievements to date include:
- Incorporation of physical activity as a key element of the Healthy Ireland National Communications Campaigns, including the current Keep Well campaign aimed at supporting resilience in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Supporting the Department of Education in the provision of physical activity and physical education in schools, including support for the Active School Flag programme;
- Establishment of the Healthy Ireland Fund, which provides significant supports for sport and physical activity initiatives and has a focus on supporting measures aimed at disadvantaged groups or communities, children and young families;
- Extension of the number of Community Sport and Physical Activity Hubs;
- Continued expansion of community walking groups under the Get Ireland Walking Strategy;
- Engagement with key stakeholders to progress actions aimed at increasing national participation in physical activity, including support for the European Week Of Sport in September every year;
- Co-ordination and implementation of the aims and objectives of the NPAP with the National Sports Policy 2018 – 2027;
- Progressing research into effective physical activity interventions, both through the Research Sub-Group and on an all-island basis through the Irish Physical Activity Research Collaboration (iPARC);
- Monitoring levels of physical activity, both for use in domestic policy development and to meet our international reporting requirements, through the Irish Sports Monitor, the Healthy Ireland Survey, the all-island Children's Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study and the international Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children Study;
- Considering the role of the environment, both built and natural, in enabling and promoting physical activity (a Stakeholder Forum on this topic was held in late 2018).
It had been intended to conduct a review of the current NPAP in 2020; however, this was delayed as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. The National Physical Activity Plan Implementation Group has therefore formally agreed that the policy will be extended to the end of 2021 and a review will take place in 2021.
Significant progress has been made on almost all of the 60 actions within the defined timeframes; more details will be available through the 2019 NPAP Progress Report, which will be published shortly.
Whilst many of the actions can be deemed to be completed, further progress will continue to be made pursuant to ongoing actions, past the target dates set out in the original plan. The proposed review will identify any outstanding actions which may need to be redefined or progressed further. It is intended that the Review will also include recommendations regarding refreshing, renewing or extending the National Physical Activity Plan for the years ahead.