Healthy Ireland launched the long awaited “Get Ireland Active – National Physical Activity Plan” in Dublin today (14th Jan 2016). Ministers Leo Varadkar (Health), Paschal Donohoe (Transport, Tourism and Sport) and Michael Ring (Sport) each spoke at the event. Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, attended on behalf of the cycling campaigning community. Cycling Ireland were also present representing the sporting arm of cycling.
The common theme of each of the Ministers’ speeches was that in order to avoid further pressure being applied to an already overstretched health service, it is essential to change national habits so as to have physical activity as a normal part of our everyday lives. Hear hear! And how does one change these habits? It will require multiple agencies, sporting groups, the voluntary sector etc. in order to bring about a paradigm shift at every level of society.
In Cyclist.ie, we strongly believe that the built environment itself must not be an ‘obesogenic one’ – it must make it easy and safe for people of all ages and abilities to walk and cycle. We are delighted to see this point elaborated more fully in Section Four (Environment) of the plan. The proof, of course, will be determined by the extent to which this plan shapes the capital spending programmes of other departments. It is simply not acceptable that cycling receives a minimal mention in the government’s spending plans announced recently; PDF available here
The National Physical Activity Plan is downloadable here and Cyclist.ie will be examining it in more detail over the coming days and weeks. Watch this space.