Athletics Ireland, officially the Athletics Association of Ireland or AAI, is the governing body of Athletics in Ireland, where Athletics is defined as including Track and Field Athletics, Road Running, Race Walking, Cross Country Running, Mountain Running and Ultra Distance Running. The organisation's jurisdiction covers the whole island of Ireland and it is affiliated to the International Association of Athletic Federations. Its remit is to promote athletics from recreational running, schools competitions and to support elite athletes in international competitions.
The hierarchy of the association is similar to that of the Gaelic Athletic Association in that it has provincial councils in each of Ireland's four traditional provinces, and county boards in each of Ireland's 32 traditional counties.
The AAI in its present form was established in 2000, but the history of sports governing bodies in Ireland is complicated because of the partition of the country in 1923. In 1884 the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was formed and the Irish Amateur Athletic Association(IAAA) was formed in 1885. The Cross County Association of Ireland(CCAI) was established in 1886 and later became a subsidiary of the IAAA. In 1923 the National Athletic and Cycling Association (NACA) was established merging the IAAA, the CCAI, and the Athletics Council of the GAA, with the GAA concentrating on Gaelic games. The IAAA was then admitted to membership of the IAAF. In July 1924 the Northern Ireland Amateur Athletic, Cycling and Cross Country Association(NIAAA) was formed over a dispute concerning an Easter Monday athletics meeting in Belfast, breaking away from the NACA. The Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) accepted this breakaway group under its jurisdiction.
The IAAF adopted an amendment to its constitution in 1930 which defined member organisations as being contiguous with political entities. The NACA rejected this ruling and was suspended from the IAAF. in 1937 some clubs seceded from the NACA to set up the Irish Amateur Athletic Union (IAAU) and this body became a member of the IAAF the following year while the NACA's suspension was made permanent.
The IAAU became the Amateur Athletic Union of Eire (AAUE) which represented Ireland at subsequent Olympic games.
It wasn't until 1967, and after multiple failed attempts to resolve the dispute between the governing bodies, that the NACA (now called the NACAI) and AAUE were both dissolved and Bord Luthchleas na hEireann (BLE) was formed. In 1987, and with improved north-south relations, BLE and NACAI signed an agreement allowing athletes affiliated to both bodies to represent Ireland. BLE and NACAI dissolved completely in 2000 to form the Athletics Association of Ireland (Athletics Ireland).
- "Constitution of the Athletic Association of Ireland". Athletic Association of Ireland. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- "President of Athletics Association of Ireland to appear before Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs". House of the Oireachteas. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- "History". Athletics Ireland. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
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