The Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers has acknowledged there is no direct input from a mental health-specific perspective on his department's sports expert group.
The impact of the ongoing lockdown and ban on outdoor and indoor sporting activities on young people has been covered widely in recent weeks and months.
The Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West joined Adrian and Eoin on Friday morning's OTB AM.
Minister Chambers was asked if he has experts around the table advising on the mental health impact of a lack of activity and sport on children.
"Well we've got our sports expert group that brings in some of the medical expertise... On the sports expert group there isn't [someone who focuses on mental health]. There would be medical expertise and the governing bodies.
"We engage with all the governing bodies and I've engaged with young people myself, we had a positive engagement in a youth forum with young people on the impact ofthe restrictions over the last number of months, but also how we can ensure young voices impact sport policy in a more positive way."
Chambers went on to say that mental health is an important consideration when it comes to returning to sport safely.
"There is from a governing body perspective... mental health is obviously one of the considerations that is referenced by many of the governing bodies.
"In terms of the expert group on the return to sport, there's been expertise across the governing bodies from a medical perspective, and anyone from a medical background would look at the physical and mental health of the people they represent and the impact in the sports system.
'There's been a distinct lack of leadership from the quasi-Minister for Sport.'
Adrian Barry on Jack Chambers and Ireland's lack of planning to get people back participating in sporting activities 🏌️🎾⚽🏉#OTBAM with @GilletteUK | #MadeOfWhatMatters pic.twitter.com/AYG2T3yv9N
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) April 9, 2021
"Government takes its advice from the Department of Health, and a significant segment of that department is around mental health... and [for] any public health doctor it's about the physical and mental health in their public health considerations.
"It isn't a case of one consideration being the sole consideration - there is an absolute consideration within government on the impact of people's mental health, and when government is making decisions on matters related to restrictions mental health is an important consideration.
"That's why if you look at the severe lockdown in January, the impact on people's mental health was regularly referenced.
"[We want to] get as much outdoor activity back as soon as possible but that we keep it back. It is important that we keep it open when we can open at all."