Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ceisteanna (231, 232, 233)

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

236 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the potential role of sport in suicide prevention; and the funding that will be made available for same. [23389/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

237 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the potential role of sport in combating mental health difficulties within society, particularly among our youth; and the funding that will be made available for same. [23390/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

242 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the role of sport in combating obesity within society, particularly in view of the fact that Ireland has some of the highest rates of overweight and obesity amongst children in Europe. [23395/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236, 237 and 242 together.

My Department is responsible for the development of sport in Ireland. In that context, I recognise that sport and physical activity have significant potential to contribute to the development of a healthier society. There are huge social and health benefits accruing from sport. It can make a major contribution to some of our most pressing social and health issues, including suicide prevention, mental health issues and obesity. Sport needs to be better recognised for the major role it plays in this regard. There are major benefits not just for individuals but also for our health system in maintaining and increasing participation levels in sport. The World Health Organisation acknowledges that increasing levels of participation in physical activity can significantly reduce the costs to society. One of the goals of my Department is to contribute to a healthier and more active society by promoting sports participation. I want to ensure all people are encouraged and given opportunities to participate in sport and enjoy all the benefits sport can bring through developing a healthy lifestyle. In that context, the Irish Sports Council, which is funded by my Department, received an allocation of almost €44.5 million in 2012. I am pleased to say that provisional 2011 figures in relation to the level of participation in sport are encouraging. New research by the Irish Sports Council shows that the upward trends seen in participation levels in 2009, when 33.5% of the population participated regularly compared to 29.8% in 2003, are continuing and might if anything be accelerating.