HC Deb 27 March 1986 vol 94 cc1062-3
12. Mr. Bellingham

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is his policy towards Belfast seeking to stage the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

Dr. Mawhinney

I welcome the initiative shown by the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council and the Northern Ireland Assembly in indicating support for staging the games in Northern Ireland, and I have recently established a working party to consider the feasibility of doing so.

Mr. Bellingham

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the strengths of the Irish is that sport transcends politics and religion? Surely the examples of Barry McGuigan and all-Ireland rugger demonstrate that dramatically? One can add to that the sporting exploits of the right hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Mason) when he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. In the light of that, surely no effort should be spared in attempts to get the games to Belfast?

Dr. Mawhinney

I am pleased that my hon. Friend shares my enthusiasm at the prospect of the games being staged in Northern Ireland, but he will understand that it is necessary to explore seriously all the various aspects of the staging of the games before a decision is made. That is exactly what I have asked the working party to do, and I hope to receive its report in February 1987.

Mr. Forth

Can my hon. Friend give an undertaking that every effort will be made to seek methods of funding such an activity through the private sector, in order to protect the public purse against the type of damage that can be inflicted on it by unsuccessful events of this type, should they occur?

Dr. Mawhinney

I can assure my hon. Friend that the working party is mindful of the point that he raises, and that it will be part of its deliberations before it writes its report.

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