Thursday, 21 November 2019

Ceisteanna (25)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

25. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the creation of an all-island soccer league; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48177/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The organisation and delivery of sport in Ireland is mainly a matter for National Governing Bodies of Sport.  The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Irish Football Association (IFA) are the respective Governing Bodies for soccer on the island.  They are independent and autonomous bodies and any proposals regarding an all-island soccer league would be a matter for those two bodies.

The organisation of sport on an all-island basis has worked very successfully for a number of sports, most notably in the cases of rugby and hockey.  I am very supportive of cross-border sporting initiatives and collaborations between sporting organisations.  Such approaches have excellent potential to enhance relationships on both parts of the island of Ireland.  In that regard, the Unite the Union Cup was a very welcome addition to the sporting calendar on the island of Ireland this year.

I am aware that proposals for an all-island league were presented in recent months and that, thus far, it has not been possible to progress such proposals.  It is important to respect the autonomy and positions of the National Governing Bodies in this matter however personally, I believe there is serious merit in such proposals.  I would encourage the bodies to continue to facilitate opportunities for cross-border cooperation and competition.