Belfast council decides against knockout funding blow to boxing clubs
Belfast City Council last night voted against plans which would have slashed funding for amateur boxing clubs in the city by up to 88%.
Earlier in the evening more than 100 members of amateur boxing clubs staged a protest outside City Hall over the proposed funding cuts.
The clubs said that the council was slashing its agreed financial support, dealing a devastating blow to their budgets.
Coaches, boxers and family members from around 25 clubs across counties Antrim and Down staged the protest ahead of the council's monthly meeting last night.
The 10-year Amateur Boxing Strategy was implemented in 2013 and involved a three-year plan that included funding of £200,000 per year.
It's understood funding was to be have been cut to £24,000 a year under a proposal by the peoples and communities committee.
The revelation caused uproar in boxing clubs and prompted last night's rally.
Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh and People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll took part in the protest.
Two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes, who is part of the Antrim Boxing Association, said that the clubs were not happy about the funding cuts.
"Amateur boxing clubs already struggle for money, it's hard for them to pay all the bills. Most of the workers are voluntary, including the coaches. Kids qualifying for boxing competitions need these clubs," he said.
Following last night's meeting a council spokesman said it had agreed to funding of £45,000 a year for amateur boxing clubs as opposed to the threatened £24,000 a year.