• Representative Bodies unite to form Irish Athletes Alliance

    Elite athletes to benefit from shared knowledge and collective lobbying

    Today marks a significant milestone in the Irish sporting landscape with the formation of the Irish Athletes Alliance, a pioneering initiative aimed at championing the rights, well-being, and professional development of elite Irish athletes.

    Led by the Gaelic Players’ Association, Rugby Players Ireland, the Irish Jockeys Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland, the Irish Athletes Alliance aims to serve as a voice and as a catalyst for positive change within Ireland’s high-performance sporting community.

    Aligned with a collective vision to safeguard the interests of Irish athletes, the Irish Athletes Alliance’s first undertaking will be in the engagement of government to advocate for the development of policies that will ensure all athletes on elite-level pathways receive cardiac screening.

    Upon the establishment of the Irish Athletes Alliance, Simon Keogh, CEO of Rugby Players Ireland said: “Traditionally, Irish sports have tended to forge their own way. However, as each sport has grown, so too has our recognition of shared challenges and opportunities. By pooling our resources, knowledge, and experiences, the Irish Athletes Alliance can further harness Ireland’s vast sporting potential by working together to ensure our athletes have the support and resources they need to thrive.

    Tom Parsons, GPA CEO added: “The GPA are delighted to be a founding member of the Irish Athlete Alliance as it is our strongly held view that elite athletes across all sports face similar challenges and by pooling our collective knowledge and influence we can have a greater positive impact on their behalf.

    “Our first step in tandem will be to lobbying for compulsory cardiac screening for elite athletes. It is timely that this is a key focus given tomorrow sees the launch of the Dillon Quirke Foundation in memory of the Tipperary hurler and GPA member.”

    As CEO of the PFAI, Stephen McGuinness also welcomed the formation of the Irish Athletes Alliance: “PFA Ireland are delighted to be one of the founding members of the Irish Athlete Alliance. Every elite athlete should have support and representation with their best interests at heart, and the collaboration between alliance members can help in the drive to provide this environment.

    “Working together we can ensure that the voice of elite athletes is at the centre of key decisions by all stakeholders in the sports sector. It is imperative that all our elite athletes have the same rights and opportunities as they strive to be the best they can be in their chosen sport.”

    Andrew Coonan, Executive Secretary of the Irish Jockeys Association said: “We’re delighted to join with our fellow player associations and look forward to working with them on matters of common interest to benefit the welfare of our members. Dialogue and finding common ground can only be good for all involved.

    “We are also very proud to support the Dillon Quirke Foundation alongside our fellow athlete representative bodies.”


    Editor’s Notes

    Gaelic Players Association (GPA)
    The Gaelic Players Association is the representative body for high-performance inter-county players. Founded by players in 1999 and strengthened by a merger with the Women’s Gaelic Players Association in 2020, the GPA supports over 4,000 current male and female inter-county players and a growing number of former players across the four core pillars of Player Representation, Player Welfare, Player Development and Equality.

    Rugby Players Ireland
    Rugby Players Ireland, the representative body for Ireland’s professional rugby players, consistently strives to make Ireland the best place in the world to play rugby. Rugby Players Ireland works towards achieving this vision by ensuring that player welfare is always prioritised and that there are fair and equitable terms and conditions for players. The association also adopts a holistic approach to player development and ensures that the profile enjoyed by Ireland’s rugby players contributes to the future development not just of Irish rugby but Irish society as a whole.

    Irish Jockeys Association (IJA)
    The Irish Jockeys Association is the only organisation mandated to represent Professional Jockeys in Ireland and works on their behalf to best represent their interests. The IJA was founded in 1964 and since that time has greatly improved the working life of professional jockeys through various schemes such as the very successful Jockeys Pension Scheme, Jockeys Accident Fund which provides income continuity while injured, ongoing improvements to facilities provided on racecourses and also negotiates on their behalf with HRI in regard to riding fee increases.

    Professional Footballers Association of Ireland (PFAI)
    PFA Ireland is the official and sole representative organisation for all professional and semi-professional football players participating in the League of Ireland. As a democratic and player-driven association, it upholds the principles of equality and solidarity amongst its members. Recognised by FIFA through FIFPro as the sole representative of players, PFA Ireland operates as an independent players' association, working tirelessly to ensure the welfare, rights, and development of its members within a professional and supportive environment.