Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)


Institute of Technology, Tralee

First Advisor

Una Moynihan


The broad aim of this study is to analyse the current role of Irish local authorities in relation to the provision of local sport. Particular emphasis is placed on the potential contribution of Irish local authorities to the Local Sports Partnership initiative. The research considers how the local authorities need to evolve if their role within such a partnership arrangement is to be optimised.

A variety of methods were employed to analyse the prevailing and future role of the local authorities in relation to local sports development. These included a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, analysis of certain local authority documentation and the recording of certain insights into good practice.

What emerged from the research is that there prevails in Irish local authorities a lack of commonality in the organisation and management of sport. The findings suggest that while local authorities are key providers of sporting infrastructure in Ireland, they need to continue to seek more innovative ways of developing facilities if ‘value for money’ is to be achieved. Partnership with both the voluntary and private sector may prove particularly useful in this regard.

Local authorities need to consolidate their corporate management approach to sport and recreation and consider the advantages of employing sports development personnel. There is also a need for those in supervisory management positions to be provided with ongoing training and information on the process of sports development.

Local authorities contribute significantly to local sport through accessing funding disseminated at national level and also allocating grant to community groups. However, local authorities budgets for sport and recreation prove difficult to quantify and need to become more transparent. Instances also exist where grants are distributed in an ‘ad hoc’ manner and in such cases the process needs to become more strategic.

Programming and promotion are relatively new areas for Irish local authorities and further involvement is desirable.

Overall, the role of local authorities in relation to sport and recreation lacks clarity and therefore, each individual local authority has a diverse approach to provision. There is a call for the role of local authorities to be clarified and individual organisations need to undertake to commit to policy their vision and objectives for the development of local sport.

Finally, the Local Sports Partnerships are widely accepted as an effective mode of progression for local sport. The local authorities can have a valuable contribution to make to these partnerships but again, clarity as to the objectives of the partnership, the local authority role within the alliance and the resources they are willing to commit is important.

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