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Minister issues boxing club appeal

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Caral Ni Chuilin said the actions of officials at Sandy Row Boxing Club could disadvantage its young people

Caral Ni Chuilin said the actions of officials at Sandy Row Boxing Club could disadvantage its young people

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Caral Ni Chuilin said the actions of officials at Sandy Row Boxing Club could disadvantage its young people

A Protestant boxing club subjected to alleged sectarianism has refused to meet the Sports Minister, the Assembly has been told.

Caral Ni Chuilin also highlighted concerns that children at Sandy Row Boxing Club could be missing out because the south Belfast club had withdrawn its affiliation from the governing body and was not eligible for funding.

"I hope that Sandy Row will decide to re-affiliate because I am concerned that, albeit dwindling numbers in Sandy Row Boxing Club, that the children are affected because of the stance of a few of the officers," she said.

"They haven't accepted my offer to meet, although I do understand they have accepted an offer to meet the independent panel that was looking at issues around boxing on behalf of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association."

Last year, officials at the club claimed members had been subjected to "chronic sectarianism" over the last decade and produced a lengthy report detailing the incidents, which included alleged verbal and physical assaults.

They withdrew from the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) and have called for a Northern Irish governing body to be set up. Currently, boxers from Northern Ireland can only compete in the IABA. They cannot compete for the UK at international level.

Additional funding to upgrade facilities and increase coaching levels is dependent on membership of the IABA.

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Ms Ni Chuilin added: "Sandy Row, like any other club, need to be affiliated upon receipt of any funding. I would appeal again to Sandy Row - step back and think about their actions.

"This is about children and young people who are affiliated to that boxing club who are going to be left behind because of the actions of a few of the officers in that club."

TUV leader Jim Allister claimed Ms Ni Chuilin had tried to dodge the issue of sectarianism in boxing. "So, the minister's position is that unless a club that has been discriminated against by those to whom it was affiliated re-affiliates itself there will be no funding to them?" he said.


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