Sinn Féin councillor Cathal McLaughlin has given a warm welcome to Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín’s announcement of a £3m investment in amateur boxing.
Mr McLaughlin said: “This is welcome news for boxing clubs throughout the North, especially those within our own constituencies. These clubs are mostly in working class communities and have suffered from under-funding for many years with poor facilities the norm rather than the exception.
“It has only been through the great dedication, commitment and sacrifice of voluntary workers including coaches that have kept the clubs alive. Not only have the clubs been able to produce champions but they have given young people confidence and a sense of community.
“Along with my party colleague Cllr Digney’s call for funding to be released to the All Saints club in Ballymena, I would also seek funding to be released to the Scorpion club in Ballymoney and the Errigal club in Coleraine, Co Derry as both clubs promote so much to the young people from both sides of our community in the Loughgiel, Dervock, Rasharkin and surrounding areas.”
There is potential from within these clubs to maintain the excellent performances we have just watched from team Ireland in the Olympics and with funding being released, Dervock, Loughgiel and Rasharkin I have no doubt, could also produce boxers to the same standard.
North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay added: “With boxers from Ireland leading the way at the Olympics, this is a timely public announcement of a commitment given by the Minister to the DCAL Committee in June.
“The Minister had at the beginning of her term stated that boxing would be a priority given the huge positive impact the sport has in areas of high disadvantage.
“As a nation we excel at boxing but we have done so without the necessary resources and facilities in many cases. That needs to change and hopefully the success of the boxers from Bray and Belfast will breed further success at the next Olympics in Rio.”