October 12, 2020
We are writing to you today as we are aware of the increased level of challenge being experienced with the move to Level 3 for all in Republic of Ireland last week and additional restrictions for certain areas in the North.
We are very conscious of the challenges facing both our swimming and aquatic clubs and indeed the swimming pools and the whole industry of swimming.
We want you to be aware that we are doing everything we can to support you during these times and we also recognise that there are likely to be further challenges ahead.
Last Friday, 9th October the Swim Ireland CEO and Chairman met with the Republic of Ireland Minster for Sport Jack Chambers to discuss the challenges that the aquatic community face in terms of indoor swimming lessons, financial sustainability, cross-border traffic and pool closures in a Level 3 environment - along with other pertinent issues facing us at this time.
Since the Government of Ireland released the 'Living with COVID-19 Framework', Swim Ireland have worked extensively with Sport Ireland, the Department for Sport 'Return to Sport Expert Group', Ireland Active and other key stakeholders to formulate a clear plan as to what can and should be expected from and for the aquatic community, particularly in Level 2 and Level 3 jurisdictions.
We have asked all of the key questions and on occasions where we have received an answer that we believed would result in a significant challenge for us all going forwards, we have re-engaged and challenged as appropriate.
Together with Ireland Active we have consistently and most recently at our meeting with the Minister last Friday raised the issue of the viability of the swimming pool sector for operators/owners/clubs particularly with the current positioning on swimming lessons not proceeding.
Unfortunately, at this juncture, despite all of our advocacy on the issue, swimming lessons are not currently permitted to take place in Level 3 as determined by the Department of Health and movements between borders are not permissible for the majority of us.
We are also aware that some of our aquatic activities are more restricted than others whilst the nation has a Level 3 status/enhanced restrictions. We appreciate that this is disappointing and frustrating for many and we can assure you that we will continue to engage on these matters.
On a more positive note, we understand that the fund for swimming pools announced in the ROI during the Summer will open soon for applications and we are hopeful for more to follow in the ROI Budget tomorrow.
As the custodians of our sport and water-based activity in Ireland, we will continue to act on your behalf and endeavour to get us to a point where we can function as regularly as possible across whatever Level of the Framework we happen to be in; we can assure you that no matter how challenging things are, we will continue to be on the front line, asking and challenging and creating awareness of both the benefits and the challenges of the whole sector.