Sports Hardship Fund

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 7th December 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP 3:15 pm, 7th December 2020

T4. Ms P Bradley asked the Minister for Communities, in a follow up to Mr Butler, and after welcoming the sports hardship fund, which opened last Friday, to outline the rationale behind the fact that the groups, organisations and clubs have to go through their governing bodies, which might benefit some of the larger organisations such as football, GAA and rugby but could make it more difficult for some of the smaller groups and clubs whose affiliated bodies might be in other parts of the UK or in the Republic of Ireland. (AQT 794/17-22)

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

To assure the Member, the governing bodies are not making decisions on the applications; they are supporting them. The Sports Forum deals with a lot of other governing bodies — the smaller ones — and, indeed, Sport NI usually deals with the elite athletes and others. It is also to help smaller groups, in particular, with the template. For example, a small five-a-side football team should not have to go through the same due diligence as Linfield. That is not fair, but the IFA should be there to help them and, indeed, anybody else. That was the rationale behind that.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

I thank the Minister for her answer. In the same vein, what conversations has the Minister had with the Finance Minister? I was recently made aware that a cricket club had applied, through the Finance Minister, for that stream of funding but was told that it had to apply through the sports fund. Will there be an even playing field? Whether it is a working men's club, social club or sports club, will they not be disproportionately affected by applying through the sports fund, instead of through the Department of Finance funding?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

The primary function is about sport. A working men's club that does not have any attachment to sport, other than its name, need not apply. You would not be surprised at some of the queries I have had. In my opinion, this needs to be as straightforward as possible because people have had a tough enough year. If anybody is in any doubt, they should go to Sport NI to ask for support with the guidance. If they are not getting support from a governing body, or they do not get enough and maybe need more detail, they should go straight to Sport NI, because it is primed and ready to take any queries. I got that assurance last week because it was one of the things that I asked.