I consider that the Daily Mile initiative, which originated in Scotland about five years ago, can make an important contribution to the challenge of increasing the levels of physical activity in primary school children. As the Deputy may be aware, it involves teachers taking these children outside for 15 minutes each school day, when they can either run or walk around their playground. It has been found that about 50% of the children can typically run for a mile during that time, with others running slightly shorter or longer distances depending on individual capability. It is a fantastic initiative and I fully support it.
I had the privilege of being invited by Athletics Ireland to launch the initiative on a pilot basis in two schools in Dublin and Kerry in April. The programme is organised and run by Athletics Ireland, in cooperation with the Department of Education and Skills and the relevant school authorities. Its further roll out on a wider basis to other schools is accordingly an issue for consideration by those organising and running the programme. My Department or Sport Ireland does not have a function to exercise in that context.
While neither my Department nor Sport Ireland are in a position to decide on the extent to which the Daily Mile initiative may be rolled out to more schools, I would hope that this will prove possible. My Department will shortly launch its new National Sports Policy, which aims at increasing the level of sports participation across the population, with a particular focus on participation and physical literacy levels of school-aged children and young people. Engagement by schools with programmes such as the Daily Mile will be extremely important as we begin to implement the actions in this new Policy.