Attendance at Sporting and Cultural Events

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:30 am on 11th June 2007.

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Photo of Alasdair McDonnell Alasdair McDonnell Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Spokesperson (Education), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury) 3:30 am, 11th June 2007

4.   asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what sporting and other cultural events he plans to attend over the next four weeks.

          (AQO 33/07)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Since taking up the portfolio of Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, I have attended nine sports events and 22 cultural and arts events. Those events have taken place in 12 constituencies. I intend to continue that commitment, and I plan to attend three sports and 14 cultural and arts events over the next four weeks.

In addition, I intend to represent the Department and Northern Ireland at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington.

Photo of Alasdair McDonnell Alasdair McDonnell Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Spokesperson (Education), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

I congratulate the Minister on his first Question Time and wish him well in his post. I also congratulate him on his intention to attend the Smithsonian festival.

Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy UUP

Is he going to the Twelfth?

Photo of Alasdair McDonnell Alasdair McDonnell Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Spokesperson (Education), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

I shall leave that to the Minister’s discretion. I presume that that may be one of the cultural events that he has listed to attend.

Is the Minister aware that all sporting bodies are delighted that he is in post as a devolved Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure? Will he endeavour to attend as many events as possible and meet the hopes and expectations of as many people as possible? There is a big expectation — for people have high hopes that devolution will result in much more energy and investment in sporting and cultural events here.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

It is useful to recognise the contribution that sport makes to our community’s well-being. As the Minister with responsibility for sport, I want to support those people who are engaged in sport. I shall exclude nothing and will deal with each invitation as it comes into my office.

Photo of Stephen Moutray Stephen Moutray DUP

Does the Minister have any plans to meet his counterparts in other elected jurisdictions?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Yes. I hope to meet Tessa Jowell in the not-too-distant future. As yet, no other meetings with other Ministers have been arranged.

Photo of Barry McElduff Barry McElduff Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Does the Minister value the contribution made to sports development, and wider society, by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)? Is he aware that this coming weekend will see the biggest single cultural or sporting event in the province of Ulster with the match between Tyrone and Donegal in Clones? If he were so inclined, would the Minister welcome an invite to the game?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

As I have already said, all sports make a significant contribution to the well-being of society. I do not seek to be exclusive; nor should others seek to be exclusive by saying that only one sport is doing a good job. All sports are doing a good job. I have not received an invitation to the game, but I will deal with each invitation as it comes. I have, however, made it clear that I do not intend to attend any events held on a Sunday, as that is a day that I spend with my family.