Press Release

Taoiseach, Minister for Health and Minister of State for Health Promotion announce Healthy Ireland Fund investments to help people across the country get more active

New campaign to ‘Get Ireland Walking’ launched


An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister of State Catherine Byrne today announced a range of investments from the new Healthy Ireland Fund, which was established this year under the national initiative to improve health and wellbeing. The investments are aimed at getting people across the country more active.

The new Fund, which was allocated a ‘kick start’ funding level of €5 million in Budget 2017, aims to support partnership working to support implementation of key national policies and plans under Healthy Ireland dealing with issues such as physical activity, obesity prevention and creating a tobacco-free society.

The first strand of funding of around €1.35 million announced today includes a range of projects to support the National Physical Activity Plan, with a particular focus on children. This includes cycling and swimming initiatives, a new Young Athletes Programme with Special Olympics, and a significant expansion of the Active School Flag physical activity programme in schools around the country. A new project to develop the country’s library network as health and wellbeing hubs in communities is also being funded.

An Taoiseach also launched a new strategic plan and campaign for Get Ireland Walking, another national project being supported by the Healthy Ireland Fund. It will see 100 new Active Community Walking Groups being delivered with 28 Local Sports Partnerships across the country, as well as training for new walking leaders in a range of rural and urban communities.

An Taoiseach also announced that there has been a great response to a second strand of funding of €3.8 million which was offered to Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) and Children and Young People Services Committees (CYPSCs), with every local authority area making an application. This funding strand aims to support local implementation of health and wellbeing actions from Local Economic and Community Plans as well as national policies.

An Taoiseach said: “Creating a healthier Ireland is a priority for my Government. With these new investments we can help more people, more families and more communities to look after their own health and wellbeing. We are supporting three core areas of physical activity, preventing obesity, and creating a tobacco-free society. By working with schools, communities and State bodies like libraries, we are joining the dots to ensure that the benefits of Healthy Ireland are felt at local level.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “Healthy Ireland is about increasing our focus on prevention and supporting and empowering people to improve their own health and wellbeing. We have a range of policies and plans to address public health challenges such as obesity and physical inactivity, but implementation depends on collaboration across sectors such as Education, Sport and Local Government. This new Fund will support and strengthen that partnership working all across the country, but most importantly it will enable and empower many families and communities to get involved and be part of their local Healthy Ireland movement”.

Minister of State for Health Promotion and the Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne said: “The range of initiatives being supported by the new Healthy Ireland Fund will have a really positive impact at community level. I’m looking forward to supporting the new campaign to ‘Get Ireland Walking’ as it’s an activity that’s free and accessible to everyone. I’m also excited about our new partnership with the nationwide network of libraries under the Healthy Fund to make libraries a ‘go to’ place for health information, as well as information about how to get involved in health and wellbeing activities in your local area. This will be an important new way for us to reach out to different groups in communities who might not already be linking in with activities locally.”


Notes for Editors

Healthy Ireland Fund

In Budget 2017 funding of €5 million was allocated to the Department of Health to ‘kick-start’ the Fund. The Department has contracted Pobal, the not-for-profit company that manages programmes on behalf of the Irish Government and the EU, to administer the Fund on their behalf.

The Healthy Ireland Fund is intended as an innovative mechanism to stimulate and support inter-sectoral action and partnership working to implement Healthy Ireland, the national framework to improve health and wellbeing.

It is aimed at supporting evidence-based initiatives to support implementation of key policies and strategies under Healthy Ireland, including the Obesity Policy and Action Plan, the National Physical Activity Plan, Tobacco Free Ireland, the Sexual Health Strategy and others, and will have a focus in supporting measures aimed at children and young families and disadvantaged groups or communities.

National Actions Strand

This strand, which has a funding level of approx. €1.35m, is being used to support national level actions via statutory agencies. In total 11 projects were identified and approved under this strand and these are outlined below.

Sport Ireland projects

Nine separate actions have been approved under the aegis of Sport Ireland which will be delivered with a number of partners including Local Sports Partnerships and National Governing Bodies for particular sports. The projects are:

Special Olympics Young Athletes Programme – €54,221 – The programme will target a very specific group, young people with an intellectual disability, to develop a Young Athletes pilot programme as an integral part of Special Olympics, involving an initial 50 Young Athletes and their families. Training will also be provided to volunteers in a number of other clubs to prepare for wider roll-out following the pilot phase.

The Great Dublin Bike Ride – €105,915 – The Great Dublin Bike Ride is a flagship event for the European Week of Sport in Ireland, 2017, held on Sunday the 24th of September. This event is a key component of the Healthy Ireland-supported strategies around developing cycling participation.

National Fitness Day – €40,000 – National Fitness Day was another flagship of the European Week of Sport held on Friday 29th September, and the funding facilitated local facilities being made available in local communities free of charge, with the added intention of building local links to progress after the event.

Operation Transformation – €38,369 – This funding will support Sport Ireland’s involvement in 2018 Operation Transformation TV programme, which reaches an audience of 500,000+ and deliver a series of national walking and parkrun events in partnership with Local Sports Partnerships across the country, and leverage the promotional opportunity from the TV programme and associated media and social media activity.

Get Ireland Swimming – €150,000 – Swim Ireland is working in partnership with Ireland Active to develop a nationally-coordinated programme to support more children learn to swim. The funding will support promotional activity and networking at local level, including 500 children in 10 schools complete the Schools Swimming Programme and 5,000 free swims to communities, with a focus on supporting participation by schools and communities which otherwise might find it difficult to get involved. Schools in Dublin, Cork and Wexford are being identified for participation. The Dublin schools are likely to be in the following locations – Crumlin, Porterstown, Ballyfermot, Phibsboro and Coolock.

Get Ireland Walking – €100,000 – Support the early implementation of the new Get Ireland Walking Strategic Plan and campaign. This will include the delivery of 100 new Active Community Walking Groups in 28 Local Sports Partnerships across the country, and training for new local walking leaders in a range of rural and urban communities.

Get Ireland Cycling – €30,000 – The focus of this project is to begin the work required to establish a ‘Get Ireland Cycling’ initiative, to develop the culture of cycling in Ireland using the multi-agency partnership approach that has been successfully used for the Get Ireland Walking initiative.

Cycle Right – €150,000 – Cycle Right is a cyclist road safety training programme developed and supported by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Road Safety Authority and Cycling Ireland. The funding will target school-aged children to participate in the programme to support greater participation in cycling to school etc, and support completion of the programme by approx. 5,000 children in 150 schools.

Children Sport Participation and Physical Activity follow up study 2017-2018 – €70,000 – This study will act as a follow up to the 2010 Children Sport Physical Activity study which delivered a detailed assessment of participation in sport, physical education and physical activity among children and young people aged 10 – 18. Policy development currently relies on the data from 2010 which now needs to be updated and give a better baseline assessment to underpin the implementation of policy around physical activity in children and young people.

Local Government Management Agency Project

Healthy Ireland at Your Library Programme – €400,000 – This funding will enable the development of a new Healthy Ireland initiative through the national network of over 300 libraries so these become part of the local ‘go to’ supports around health and wellbeing. Through the country wide library network, the programme will provide a range of resources, services and support to users and communities via provision of a comprehensive collection of books on health and wellbeing available in all public libraries, online resources (e-books, audiobooks etc.), as well as local and national promotional activities to engage particular groups in the community, including those where health literacy supports are identified.

Active School Flag Project

Active School Flag – €213,290 – The existing Active School Flag is delivered by Mayo Education Centre on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. A key action in the National Physical Activity Plan is to significantly expand the programme. This funding will be used to increase the numbers of primary schools participating in the initiative and to design a more fit-for-purpose model for post primary schools to align with the new Wellbeing area of learning.