Megan Fearon asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Caral Ni Chuilin, what efforts her Department and SportNI are employing to promote greater participation in sport for girls and women during today’s Question Time. The Minister that women are “significantly underrepresented” in sport but highlighted the Sports Matters Action Plan that has been put in place to meet the DCAL target of increasing female participation in sport by 6% before 2019. The 2012-2013 continuous household survey revealed that female participation in sport is at 41% - an increase of 16% and evidence that the strategy has started well. Ms Ni Chuilin also agreed with Michelle McIlveen that there are not enough women board members of sports governing bodies in Northern Ireland – an issue she will continue to monitor through the Sports Monitoring Implementation Group.
In response to a question from Maeve McLaughlin, the Minister highlighted the work of her Department in promoting mental health initiatives. Projects include the IFA Health Programme, Sport NI’s ‘Minding Your Head’ programme and similar work through Libraries NI and the Arts Council. £30,000 has also been made available for a pilot project to launch suicide awareness programmes through sports clubs.
The highlight of Question Time was undoubtedly David McNarry’s supplementary question to his enquiry about the Minister’s plans to promote poetry, which was delivered in rhyme (view the Member’s lyrical contribution at 14m08s). Ms Ni Chuilin also provided updates on the Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme, the Salto Gymnastic Club and fish stocks in Lough Neagh.
During topical questions the Minister was keen to refute reports in a recent newspaper article that funds that had been earmarked for boxing clubs had been used to fund GAA projects. She reiterated her desire to see boxing clubs receive the funding they need and deserve, describing the current state of facilities as “disgraceful”.