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Money well spent to hail a true hero

By Henry McDonald

Published 30/08/2016

So was the £20,000 of ratepayers' money worth it? Was the dosh Belfast City Council forked out to host world boxing champion Carl Frampton's homecoming from New York cash well spent?

The answer still has to be yes - even though the projected figure of more than 6,000 fans failed to materialise at City Hall to welcome home the Tigers Bay-born fighter after his title win.

The scenes in Belfast city centre hardly matched the mass outbreak of euphoria of June 1985 when tens of thousands welcomed Barry McGuigan back after his epic bout with Eusebio Pedroza in London. Yet it would be unfair to compare Frampton's homecoming to McGuigan's.

Back then Belfast had been crying out for a sporting champion whose appeal crossed the sectarian divide. McGuigan, whose calls for reconciliation chimed with so many, was a breath of fresh air in such a stale environment.

However, Frampton too has amazing cross-community appeal and, like Rory McIlroy, is undoubtedly a fantastic ambassador for Northern Ireland.

Circumstances worked against the City Council on the day of the Frampton homecoming with (inaccurate, as it turned out) forecasts for rain. There was also the teatime schedule, which made it harder for fans to get into the gridlocked roads around Belfast.

Nonetheless, no one should begrudge Frampton or criticise City Hall for putting on the show. Carl Frampton deserves such a tribute a thousand times over.

Belfast Telegraph

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