Athletics Ireland announce Official Partnership with Sanctuary Runners


Athletics Ireland and Sanctuary Runners today announced the formalisation of their official partnership which aims to bring local residents and people from a migrant background together to build friendships and better understanding, through the action of running, jogging or walking.

Sanctuary Runners and Athletics Ireland have a shared ambition to promote running and walking as an effective means of community integration, and to provide people living in direct provision or from migrant communities with greater opportunities to participate and volunteer in the sport of athletics.

Athletics Ireland and Sanctuary Runners have enjoyed a long association, and today’s announcement will further seek to provide persons in direct provision and from a migrant background with opportunities to participate in Athletics.

Athletics Ireland and Sanctuary Runners will collaborate in a number of areas, supported by Sport Ireland through Healthy Ireland funding, including the support for employment of the Sanctuary Runners Development and Partnership Officer (DO).

The partnership will also look increase access to the sport for people living in direct provision and from migrant communities, while also support existing Sanctuary Runner groups in Ireland and explore ways to strengthen links with local Athletics Clubs.

Athletics Ireland will also support the active participation of Sanctuary Runners (persons in direct provision) in Mass Participation events, with specific reference to Athletics Ireland owned events, starting with the upcoming Irish Runner 5k which takes place in the Phoenix Park on May 18th.

A special shoe donation area will be made available at upcoming Athletics Ireland events, starting with the Irish Runner 5k on May 18th. People can donate clean running shoes that still have some miles left in them to Sanctuary Runners on the day.

Speaking at today’s announcement, Sanctuary Runners Founder, Graham Clifford, said: The partnership with Athletics Ireland is so hugely important to us as it underpins the unique ability of sports to bring people together regardless of their legal status, nationality, religion, language ability, gender or sexual orientation”.

He added: “We’re so grateful to everyone at Athletics Ireland for their vision in bringing this partnership to life. We’ve some very exciting ideas in the pipeline and we are so grateful to be able to call on Athletics Ireland for their knowledge, experience and expertise in the area of athletics in Ireland. We all want the same thing – to use this wonderful sport to break down barriers and to provide a pathway for a more healthy and socially cohesive Ireland which benefits everyone.”

CEO of Athletics Ireland, Hamish Adams, said: “We’ve long been supporters of the work of Sanctuary Runners and today’s announcement is the next step in our close working relationship. The vision of Athletics Ireland is to inspire the nation to be active, healthy and to perform through athletics, and we are delighted to be working with Sanctuary Runners as we bring the benefits of athletics to all.”

Welcoming the announcement of the partnership, Sport Ireland Chief Execuitve, Dr. Úna May added "This collaboration marks a significant step towards fostering inclusivity within the running community. In today's society, inclusive sport is more important than ever. It helps bridge cultural divides, build friendships, and promote mutual understanding through shared physical activities. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support of the Healthy Ireland Fund, which enables Sport Ireland to support a broad range of initiatives in running, walking, cycling, and swimming. Such support is crucial in ensuring that everyone, has the opportunity to engage in and benefit from these healthy, community-building activities.

For more information about Sanctuary Runners, please visit:

About Sanctuary Runners

Sanctuary Runners is a solidarity-through-sport initiative which uses running, jogging and walking to bring together asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and all Irish residents. 

With groups across Ireland we are currently expanding internationally. Our model allows communities to get to know each other, fosters community integration and improves physical and mental health.

As a non-political group that focuses on positive action, we operate under the principles of solidarity, friendship and respect. We do not aim to be the fastest running team in the world……but definitely the friendliest!


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