Belfast Telegraph

Our chief Antoinette McKeown has not left: Sport NI

By Steven Beacom

Sport NI last night took the unusual step of releasing a statement to say its Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown remains in her post.

This followed speculation in sporting circles yesterday that Ms McKeown had departed the high-profile role.

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Sport NI decided to issue a brief statement.

It read: "Sport NI can confirm that Antoinette McKeown has not left her post."

It is understood that Sport NI's chief executive, the first female in the role, is on leave at present and unavailable to comment.

Ms McKeown was unveiled as the CEO of the public body for the development of sport in Northern Ireland in June 2013, and left her job as chief executive of the Consumer Council to take up her new role several months later.

She succeeded Nick Harkness who had served in an acting capacity after the resignation of Eamonn McCartan.

Ms McKeown was brought in to shape the future of Sport NI, making it clear she wanted to create better facilities and conditions for sportspeople here.

That aim has not been helped by savage budget cuts. In December this newspaper revealed the NI Executive was cutting Sport NI's budget by more than £1m.

Earlier this week Disability Sport NI (DSNI) criticised Sport NI for cutting its budget, with world disabled water skiing champion and president of DSNI Dr Janet Gray labelling it a "disgrace". Sport NI defended the decision.

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