This week is a key period in the public finances as unions and government argue it out over cuts. Health, Education and Social Welfare are battle grounds. Sport investment one could say encompasses health in terms of lifestyle and leads to less cost so education and sport really do go together. A lobby group was making the case last week that cuts in sport spending can have negative effects and could lead to anti social behaviour.
Talking to parents they often express pride about their offsprings’ sporting ability and how it keeps them out of trouble and stops them hanging around street corners. Many express concern about the low priority of some schools towards physical education and how exams are the main criteria.
In the past, teachers would have contributed to sports training after school but now this is less so as time becomes more valuable and commuting distances have also to be considered. If there are cutbacks it is said that sport could be one of the losers. Has there been an analysis of how valuable sport is to society?
Lower crime rates and a healthier society are just some of the benefits of young people’s participation in sport. Sports people would smoke less and would be less likely to take illegal drugs and alcohol. In these days where young people can get gloomy about job prospects there can be a tendency to bury problems with booze and drugs. Sports clubs and schools should be lobbying to make sure that the sports sector is not starved of funds over the next few years of cutbacks.
The Government could come out with some radical policies to get persons on social welfare involved with clubs, whether coaching, doing maintenance work or other community activity. This would be good for the morale of the person concerned and helpful to clubs which, these days, are finding fundraising difficult.
We are beginning to know how much money was wasted in FAS in the boom years. Is there now an option for FAS to link up with sports clubs and create new training opportunities in sport and health management outside of the health sector?
Volunteering has been dropping in the past few years as people became so busy. Surely now is a time to revive it and work out who is currently unemployed that could offer something back to the community by way of a training allowance. Some risks and new challenges need to be under taken. At present, the government is drifting and not coming up with any new solutions. Getting people back into sport and work should be major priorities. A think tank could be created to get this moving soon and have some Budget initiative.
Czechs give Lisbon approval
The European economy will get a confidence boost from the decision by the Czech court to give the Lisbon Treaty approval. At least Ireland was not last on the list. The news from the Eurozone about a recovery in Europe is also encouraging but Ireland is not yet out of intensive care.
The success of the Budget and a turnaround in the public finances will be needed and may be painful. Argument will continue but really most accept the problem but cannot agree the medicine whether it be extra taxes or lower public spending.
The sooner decisions are made the better so that recovery is not delayed another few years. In the meantime, the jobless look at leaving the country as Government and unions disagree. Are we seeing the eighties again re-appear in a different way?