Assembly has chance to stamp out sectarianism in sport – McCarthy

Alliance Chief Whip Kieran McCarthy MLA has secured a debate in the Assembly today on stamping out sectarian chanting at football matches. Alliance has been campaigning to have laws similar to the football offences act in England. The motion, which has been co-proposed by Kieran McCarthy will be debated in the Assembly on Tuesday morning.

The Strangford MLA, Mr McCarthy, said: “Its time that police were give the laws they need to crack down on sectarian and other prejudicial chanting at matches.

“I am glad the Assembly will today be given the chance to debate my motion on the issue.

“The debate will put the necessary pressure on DCAL Minister Edwin Poots to bite the bullet and tackle this issue. He must take the initiative and not simply be content to let the NIO leave it sitting in their in-tray.

“If we are given these laws, the vast majority of our local sports fans, who abhor this type of behaviour will be able to enjoy matches free from intimidation.

“Currently a vacuum exists where the police and stewards are powerless to prevent this type of chanting – our fans need protection and they must not be made to suffer in silence.

“We want to ensure that this legislation outlaws all forms of prejudice at all sporting events, not only football matches.

“We will also be pushing for a scheme which ensures that all those playing for major sporting clubs locally will receive anti-sectarianism training. The abuse that Fermanagh hurling player Darren Graham received has brought into sharp focus the need for such measures.

“Sport has the potential to bring the public together, but to get the feelgood factor we must ensure that our stadia are shared spaces where everyone feels welcome.”


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