Anger as minister rejects boxing club support as ‘gossip’

The Sandy Row Boxing Club in Belfast.
The Sandy Row Boxing Club in Belfast.

The minister for sport has again rejected a call for her department to support young Protestant boxers who don’t wish to compete under the present all-Ireland arrangements.

As reported in yesterday’s News Letter, Ray Rodgers, president of the prestigious Golden Gloves of America organisation, wrote to the Sandy Row club offering his support for the formation of a separate Northern Ireland amateur boxing body.

When asked by Jim Allister for her thoughts in light of the prominent boxing official’s intervention, Caral Ni Chuilin said she was “too busy to peruse gossip”.

Commenting afterwards, the TUV leader said the minister’s instant dismissal of a letter she hadn’t read as gossip was “nothing short of scandalous”.

Mr Allister said: “For her information, the fact that someone of the standing within amateur boxing internationally of Ray Rodgers has come out and backed Sandy Row and called for a Northern Ireland Amateur Boxing Association is highly significant. I have long argued that there is no reason why two organisations couldn’t operate within Northern Ireland.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Michael McGimpsey has also accused the sports minister of “living in denial regarding discrimination” against the Sandy Row club.

“It is up to the minister and the IABA (Irish Amateur Boxing Association) to ensure help and financial support is provided to Sandy Row Boxing Club as it has been hugely disadvantaged due to a failure to act sooner,” he said.