UKIP MLA David McNarry

IT RAISED a few titters and chortles in the Assembly Chamber, even if deadpan MLA David McNarry didn’t mean it as a joke.

The Strangford MLA, kicked out of the UUP and who has now thrown his hat in the ring with Nigel Farage’s anti-European UKIP, had tabled a question for Sinn Fein Sports Minister Cara Ni Chuilin.

Mr McNarry wanted to know in the light of the “good job” they had done at the London Olympics and Paralympics, had she any plans for “our armed forces” in Northern Ireland.

As quick as a flash, the Minister, who was sentenced in 1989 for eight years for explosives offences, responded by saying: “I don’t have any armed forces!”

Sports Minister Cara Ni Chuilin

Momentarily, it brought ripples of laughter from the opposing MLA benches, before she added: “If the member would like to write to me with the details…”

Earlier, the Minister for Culture, Arts and Sport told the house that funding from Sport NI was not refused to a boxing club in loyalist south Belfast.

She was responding to claims by TUV leader Jim Allister had claimed funding was refused to the Sandy Row club because it was not affiliated to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association.

The mainly Protestant club claims it was subjected to sustained sectarianism over the past decade.

She said she had invited the Sandy Row club to Stormont on a number of occasions and they had refused to attend.

The minister was responding to a question from North Antrim MLA Mr Allister who wanted to know how the Sandy Row club could get funding.

Representatives from the club, who said boxers had suffered verbal and physical assaults in nationalist areas, have compiled a 57-page report detailing the incidents.

Last week Mr Allister alleged the club would not benefit from a £3m Department of Culture fund because it was not affiliated to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association..

Speaking in the assembly, the minister said her department had been working through the allegations and she also asked the TUV MLA to withdraw his remark .

She told the assembly that funding had not been withdrawn.

Ms Ni Chuilin suggested that if Jim Allister was able to facilitate a meeting involving the club and her department he should do so.

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