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Sport Ireland says ultimately each national governing body has responsibility for establishing their own rules and transgender policy.

Consultant role to assist Sport Ireland in developing transgender policy goes unfilled

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland Dr Una May said Sport Ireland wants to provide governing bodies with general guidance and support.

SPORT IRELAND ISSUED a tender in June for a consultant to assist the organisation in developing some guidance in the area of its transgender policy, but it did not receive any successful applications.

Sport Ireland is a statutory authority which oversees the development of sport in Ireland. It operates under the government’s National Sports Policy.

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland Dr Una May told The Journal that Sport Ireland wants to provide governing bodies of sports organisations “with general guidance and support”, but said ultimately “each national governing body does have responsibility for establishing their own rules”.

May said that “it’s an example of how complex it is that we didn’t actually receive any successful tenders at that stage”. 

She said in most cases, these rules are established by the International Federation and the sport organisations need to abide by the rules set out. 

Her comments comes as the Irish Independent reports that the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) is carrying out a review of its transgender policy and may ban transgender women from female contact rugby competitions.

Minister of State Jack Chambers said it is a “complex area” being discussed by every sporting organisation across the world as well as organisations in Ireland.

“I think it’s important that there’s a respectful and sensitive discussion. And obviously, every sport will have to assess this matter in the context of its own rules and its own sport. I know Sport Ireland will assist with sporting organisations when it comes to the development of their policies,” he said. 

“We’re working our way through the next phase, we’ve been liaising very closely with our international counterparts across a number of areas around the world, as well as our close neighbors in the UK and Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, who have developed their policy,” May told The Journal.

“So we’re liaising closely with others who have similar cultures, as well as liaising with others across all sports to identify what we can do to support, but ultimately, it does have to come down to each governing body developing their own rules and policies that are consistent with their international federation rules,” she added. 

Sport Ireland’s action plan has identified diversity and inclusion as an area that needs to be targeted, she said, adding that in 2019 the body appointed a diversity and inclusion manager.

“This is an area that’s very important to us,” she said. 

The diversity and inclusion policy published in May identifies a whole range of different communities and sectors of society where challenges and barriers exist to participation in sport.

A broad range of actions are required in order to make sport more accessible, open and more inclusive to all of society, she said.