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Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart has urged the Communities Minister Deidre Hargey MLA to rethink the position of her Department in excluding non-affiliated sports trainers from the resumption of outdoor training provisions.

Currently outdoor training is allowed for up to 15 people but only for those affiliated to recognised Governing Bodies or representative organisations for sport and physical activity.

Carla Lockhart said:

“The Department is rightly facing scrutiny over their scandalous handling of public money through the Sports Sustainability Fund, a matter that should be subject to an open and transparent inquiry as my colleague Paula Bradley has proposed.

However, it is also notable that the Department’s approach on outdoor sports is discriminatory against those not affiliated to a representative sporting body.

I have had a number of personal trainers and gyms contact me in dismay that they are currently being held back from providing outdoor training in groups up to 15 people by this policy dictated by DfC.

It is insulting to suggest that these instructors are not responsible enough to operate such training sessions. That is the inference.

It will exclude a very large proportion of the sport and fitness trainers in Northern Ireland.

I would urge the DfC Minister to intervene and make the needed changes. Small family run businesses deserve the action. They should be free to provide their professional services in a safe and COVID secure way.

While Minister Hargey focuses on lining the pockets and facilitating the training of certain sports and organisations, we need to ensure a fair opportunity for all.”