HC Deb 07 December 1978 vol 959 cc735-6W
21. Mr. Cohen

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assistance he has given in support of international sporting events held in Northern Ireland during the last three years.

Mr. Carter

The Government continue to give special emphasis to the development of sport in Northern Ireland. A major programme to increase sporting facilities has been undertaken, which will encourage wider community involvement. This programme, and special coaching arrangements that are also being provided, will enable top-class sportsmen and women to compete in international events.

During the past three years, over 145 international sporting events covering 17 major sports ranging from amateur boxing and badminton to association football and motor sports have been held in Northern Ireland. Already this year over 40 international events have taken place, attracting teams from 16 nations in addition to the home counties. In recent weeks visits have been made by the All Blacks rugby team and the Danish international soccer squad.

The Sports Council for Northern Ireland has made modest grants to a number of sporting organisations towards the deficit caused by arranging home events. In addition, the Department of Education for Northern Ireland has given capital grants to governing bodies to enable them to improve facilities for staging international events.

The reciprocal obligation, to compete in international events outside Northern Ireland, is also recognised, and Northern Ireland teams have travelled to many countries to compete in world-class events. Assistance has been given to these teams and representatives of governing bodies of sport in the form of travel grants paid by the Sports Council for Northern Ireland.