Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister, Caral Ni Chuilin, described the support her Department (DCAL) gives to boxing clubs during today’s Question Time. DCAL and Sport NI have provided practical and financial support to establishing boxing clubs all over the country, mainly through Sport NI’s boxing investment programme. The City of Culture legacy programme will also see an investment of £1m for boxing in Derry. “The aims of the boxing investment programme are to help the sport to address the needs of boxing clubs around club development and sustainability and the provision of suitable facilities and boxing equipment.” Ninety-four clubs have received a range of boxing equipment valued at £170,000, and £2.5 million has been allocated to take forward capital works on the premises of 40 boxing clubs, 20 of which are outside Belfast.
Following Northern Ireland football team’s qualification for Euro 2016, Adrian Cochrane-Watson MLA asked the Minister whether plans have been put in place to establish football fans’ embassies in France (the host nation) to provide assistance and information to Northern Irish fans travelling to the competition. While the Minister has had no discussions on the matter as yet, she did encourage the Irish Football Association, in association with the Northern Ireland supporters’ representatives, to establish such embassies – “Any measures that can be taken to help to ensure that fans have a safe and enjoyable experience at the championships are worthy of consideration.” Mr Cochrane-Watson was disappointed to hear the Minister’s response but Ms Ni Chuilin assured “Sport NI is helping the Irish Football Association and the Northern Ireland team, as well as many other teams competing in championships. If the Member has a suggestion or thinks that I should do something specific, I am more than happy to receive representation from him or from anyone else for that matter.”
During Question Time the Minister also answered queries on arts council budgets, libraries, support for junior and amateur football, the CS Lewis festival and the culture and arts strategy.