Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Monday, 12 November 2012

Funding for Boxing part one

The Culture Minister needs to show she "acts for all" in Northern Ireland when it comes to funding for boxing, the chairwoman of the Culture Committee said on 12 November 2012.

In August 2012, the minister, Caral Ni Chuilin, confirmed that boxing in Northern Ireland was to get a cash injection of £3m.

Two Belfast boxers, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, secured bronze medals in the 2012 London Olympics.

Michelle McIlveen of the DUP tabled a motion which called on Ms Ni Chuilin to ensure that the funding was allocated equitably across all communities.

She said her call to develop boxing in working class Protestant areas had been accused of being sectarian.

However, she said she had mentioned it as she wanted boxing to be enjoyed by everyone in Northern Ireland.

"Sectarianism in boxing needs to be addressed as a barrier to participation," she said.

Miss McIlveen said that in the Catholic area of west Belfast, there were 11 clubs within a three mile radius.

She added that there were fewer clubs in Protestant areas, which in turn led to fewer Protestants taking part in the sport.

The TUV's Jim Allister said his amendment did not take anything from the original motion, but instead added recognition of the Sandy Row report and his "regrets over the council's (Belfast City Council) failure to address the issue of sectarianism".

Earlier this year, the Sandy Row club, the membership of which is mainly Protestant, claimed it had been subjected to repeated sectarianism over the last decade, and had compiled a 57-page report detailing the incidents.

Mr Allister also called for a Northern Ireland Amateur Boxing Association to be established.

He said this would give boxers from Northern Ireland the opportunity to compete for the United Kingdom at international level.

The SDLP also tabled an amendment.

Its proposer, South Down MLA Karen McKevitt, said she wanted to replace the call for developing boxing in working class Protestant areas, with a proposal for funding to be allocated on the basis of need.

Sinn Fein's Cathal O Hoisin said he would support this amendment.

"Funding should be allocated not because of whether the club is Protestant of Catholic, or Unionist of Nationalist, but regardless of it," he said.

The UUP's Michael McGimpsey said he supported both amendments and he did not see "a contradiction".

He said he was aware of repeated incidents of discrimination and sectarianism against the Sandy Row boxing club and its members.

Chris Lyttle of the Alliance said he believed the sport should be governed by the values of "good relations and equality" and that the SDLP amendment best reflected this.

The second part of the debate can be viewed here.


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