Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland set to lose 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games due to lack of funding

Northern Ireland is set to lose the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games because funding wasn't signed off before the power-sharing government at Stormont collapsed.

The Commonwealth Games Federation is due to make a decision on whether Northern Ireland will lose the games in the coming days.

A letter received by UUP MLA Mike Nesbit from David Sterling, the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, said that the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Youth Games Council met the Secretary of State Karen Bradley last week, stressing that if funding is not secured by next Friday the Games will not be able to proceed in Northern Ireland.

Mr Sterling wrote: "The Business case for hosting the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games has been through a lengthy approval process on two separate occasions and on each occasion it has been concluded that funding for the event does not represent value for money.

"The outcome has been communicated to the NI Commonwealth Games Council.

"While this may be a disappointing outcome, without a clear demonstration of value for money there is no basis for an Accounting Officer to offer financial support for the Games unless they were formally directed to do so by their Minister.

"This means that the Department for Economy will not be in a position to fund the proposal for the Games to be held in Northern Ireland."

Mr Nesbit, who is chairman of the All Party Group on Sport and Recreation, said: “This is very disappointing news indeed.

"When the bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup was at risk through the lack of an Executive, the then Head of the Civil Service, Malcolm McKibbin, suggested a workaround whereby the five main party leaders signed letters saying they endorsed the proposal and underwrote the finances.

"That’s all the Commonwealth Youth Games organisers were asking of Malcolm McKibbin’s successor. It is deeply disappointing that the response has been so negative. The games appear to be lost, with consequent international embarrassment.

“Hosting the games would have been entirely consistent with successive PfG commitments of attracting major international events.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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