Sporting bodies face budget cuts if they fail to meet new gender quotas

Minister of State for Sport Patrick O'Donovan stated the move was aimed at "breaking the last glass ceiling"

Patrick O'Donovan, sport, Ireland,

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Minister of State for Sport Patrick O'Donovan has warned that sports groups in Ireland will need to hire more women or face funding cuts as a result. 

O'Donovan stated that new gender quotas, which would require 30% of all board members to be female, are aimed at helping women to "break the last glass ceiling."

Many organisations like the GAA, FAI and IRFU - which currently have one female representative on their board of directors between them, according to an analysis by The Irish Times - will be forced to comply with the move, nicknamed 'The Bonfire of the Blazers'. 

From 2019, sporting bodies will face the cuts should they fail to meet the quota as outlined, which the Minister for State believed was ample time for them to implement . 

"This is a challenge for sporting organisations," he said. "I hope they use this as an opportunity to comply, we are giving them plenty of time to comply.

"The decision to introduce gender quotes in politics - that was seen as a success. We would much prefer if we did not need quotas. I would prefer a situation where we didn’t need to do this.

"We are asking them to use the two year period to identify people of value to them in developing sport," he added.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, former Fianna Fáil Minister Mary O'Rourke stated that she doesn't think quotas are a good idea.

"In general terms, I think gender quotas are false," O'Rourke said. "I think that they put forward the idea that you should be picked for the role, whatever the role is, on the basis of your sex rather than on the basis of if you would be good for the job. I have always had that point of view, and I have stuck with it.

"If you are meritorious, you will get the job, if you’re not, you won’t," she added. "It is a revolutionary idea. All these organisations are strapped for cash, so it will probably work."

Meanwhile, Cork's camogie All Star Anna Geary says that while progress has been made, there is still some waty to go yet.

"It wasn't something I was aware of until I grew up into my adult years and I saw, whether it was sponsorship opportunities or from a financial point of view, that we weren't getting the same as men," said Geary.

"There are improvements being made, you can see changes, so I would look at these gender quotas as the exact same. This is about how we can better our sporting organisations across the country and the world so that younger people don't just have role models on the pitches, they have them off the pitch as well."