McKay to bring sport rates exemption bill

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Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay is to introduce a Private Members Bill in the Assembly that would make amateur sports clubs exempt from paying rates.

He said: “Amateur sports clubs are at the heart of the community and play a crucial role in youth development, mentoring, and promoting health and well-being. They mainly rely on the work of volunteers and the dedication and commitment of its members.

“Such a resource is invaluable and one would find it difficult to estimate the full cost of this if this service had to be paid for by government. The fact is that this isn’t the case but there is still a need for government support, indeed in the north we do not compare favourably with the rest of Ireland and Britain when it comes to this area.

“Many amateur sports clubs are under significant pressure at the moment. Many are running at a loss which is unsurprising given the downturn in the economy, the reduction in sponsorship given that many supporters in areas such as construction have much less work or are no longer trading, and the emigration of club members and players.

“I first started considering this proposal last year and have spoken to a number of stakeholders in local sports clubs and associations. Under the proposal even small rural clubs would be set to save thousands of pounds as a result of full exemption.

“This is an issue that affects the entire community. I will be seeking cross-party support in the Assembly in the weeks and months ahead and aiming to have the Bill passed into law next year.”