Communities Minister challenged on hate group usage of sporting properties

Mid Ulster MLA Keith Buchanan has challenged the Communities Minister to state whether she supports sporting properties being used by hate groups.

By Keith Buchanan Candidate

Mid Ulster

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Having claimed to be unaware of the use of Bellaghy GAA Club by Saoragh, Mr Buchanan said the Minister should now inform herself and give a view.

The DUP MLA said,

"There has been an important focus recently on intolerance within some sporting organisations. There can be no place for such associations within sport.

On 2nd October 2021 however, Saoragh used the grounds of Bellaghy GAA Club. This is an organisation responsible for justifying and promoting outrageous hate views. Most notably they are a group which sought to justify the terrorists who murdered Lyra McKee.

The Communities Minister today had an opportunity in the NI Assembly to make clear her opposition to such a group using a sports ground. However, she claimed to have been completely unaware of an incident which was well covered in the press, and may have been of interest to her Department.

If we take the Minister's ignorance of current affairs at face value, she does now have an opportunity however to acquaint herself with the facts and make her views clear. Is the Minister happy that a GAA club could be viewed to be aligned with a group such as Saoradh and would any such alignment impact funding granted by her Department?

I hope it will not take a further two months for the Minister to make clear her opposition to all discrimination and hatred associated with sport."

In relation to a point of order raised by the SDLP Mr Buchanan said,

“Many GAA clubs are the backbone of communities with good people at their core. I recognise that but I am appalled that GAA premises were used by a hate filled organisation such as Saoragh. The GAA should voice their opposition to Saoragh.”

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