Press Release

Assembly Committee Says Sport Can Make A Real Contribution To Health

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Reference: CAL 01/10/11

The Assembly Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee says that participation in sport and physical activity needs to be prioritised across all Government departments. The message came as they launch their Report into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland.

The Committee believes that the Executive must allocate the necessary funds to encourage this participation under the forthcoming comprehensive spending review which will set local spending priorities. As part of this, the DHSSPS (Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety) should invest more of its budget on health preventative measures to encourage more physical activity.

Chair of the Committee, Barry McElduff, MLA said: “The Committee was so concerned about the decline in adult participation in sport and physical activity that it undertook an inquiry not just to identify the barriers but also to consider the solutions to getting people to become more active.

“The message is simply not getting through to the majority of people that they should take 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week.”

While the inquiry focused on adults, the Committee found that more needs to be done by schools and sports clubs to encourage participation from early childhood until children leave formal education.

“We need to think of ways of creating a habit of a lifetime by encouraging children from a young age to be active. This should continue into adulthood with employers playing a key role in encouraging employees to participate in sport and physical activity as part of the work life balance.” said Mr McElduff, MLA.

“More needs to be done to encourage sport and physical activity among groups with lower participation rates. Research has found that women, especially young mothers and people with disabilities have much lower rates of physical activity than the rest of the population.”

Notes to Editors:

Under the Programme for Government 2008-2011, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has a target for halting the decline in adult participation in sport and physical recreation by securing 53% participation. The Committee is concerned that all steps are taken as necessary to meet that target.

Within that framework the Committee specifically:

1. Identified the main groups within the adult population which have lower levels of participation than the average rate for adults;
2. Identified and analysed the issues particular to each of these main groups which act as a barrier to participation;
3. Considerd solutions particular to each of these main groups which could lead to higher levels of participation, including considering examples of best practice from other countries and regions;
4. Report to the Assembly making recommendations to the Department and/or others on 14 September.

Committee Membership:

The Chairperson of the Committee is Mr. Barry McElduff MLA. 
The Deputy Chairperson is Mr. Declan O’Loan MLA

The Committee has a further nine members:

Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr Thomas Burns
The Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

The Clerk to the Committee is Lucia Wilson

Committee Office 
Northern Ireland Assembly 
Room 424 Parliament Buildings 
Stormont Estate, Ballymiscaw
Belfast BT4 3XX
Telephone: 028 90 521841 
Fax: 028 90 521355 
E Mail:

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