Belfast Telegraph

Olympics blunder official faces the wrath of minister

By David Gordon

A quango boss is facing a carpeting after saying Olympics athletes are deterred from visiting Northern Ireland by its troubled image.

The comments by Sport NI chief executive Eamonn McCartan came under fire during a meeting of the power-sharing Stormont Executive yesterday.

And today he is expected to be challenged face-to-face by Sports Minister Nelson McCausland.

Mr McCausland has already blasted Mr McCartan's remarks as “totally inappropriate” and is due to hold swiftly-arranged discussions with him today.

The DUP politician's criticism is understood to have been echoed by ministers from other parties.

Mr McCartan was seeking to explain why no Olympics teams have so far chosen Northern Ireland as a location for training bases in the run-up to 2012 London Games. More than 50 squads have selected other parts of the UK for pre-Games camps.

The Sports NI chief said fear of violence was one factor that influenced decisions.

Mr McCartan also listed other issues including geographical location, travel costs and access to Olympics venues.

His meeting with the Sports Minister is understood to have been called solely to discuss the controversial remarks. It is also expected to be attended by Sports NI chair Dominic Walsh.

A Sport NI spokesman this week said: “Sport NI is confident that along with the Department we can attract pre-Games training camp teams to Northern Ireland.”

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