Question Time: Culture, Arts and Leisure Monday 22 June 2015

Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Caral Ni Chuilin, discussed her Department’s efforts to support the growth of mountain biking during today’s Question Time. Sport NI’s investment in Outdoor Recreation in 2014 enabled the development of a 10 year mountain bike strategy. As well as investing over £70,000, Sport NI has also provided 1,600 metres of dedicated single-track trail suitable for recreational and competitive mountain biking. Over the past three years the Department, through Sport NI, has provided Cycling Ireland and other bodies with more than £500,000 towards cycling sports. Ms Ni Chuilin is also working with DARD and DOE to look at the possibility of developing further mountain bike tracks in the forests and parks of Northern Ireland.

Jim Allister also asked the Minister about her knowledge of safety concerns relating to the redevelopment of Casement Park in light of the CAL Committee’s current scrutiny of the matter. Ms Ni Chuilin outlined “I was aware that a project of this nature would have important public safety aspects to be considered throughout the development process. I am aware that the safety technical group was involved in discussions about safety. However, the first that I was made aware of the allegations that safety concerns had been ignored was when the chair of the safety technical group gave evidence to the CAL Committee on 30 April. I was shocked by that and, as a result, commissioned an independent project assessment review (PAR), which took place between 15 and 19 June.” This report will be published shortly. The Minister added “I want to make it clear that I am happy for anyone to look at this programme openly and transparently. My Department is fully cooperating with the CAL Committee's inquiry, which I hope will add some objective, constructive analysis to the whole debate.”

During Question Time the Minister also answered questions on arts programmes, decentralisation of DCAL jobs and funding for Ulster-Scots and Irish language broadcasting. The period of listed questions was followed by a period of topical questions in which the Minister also discussed the Ulster Museum, funding for grass-roots football, repair costs for the MAC and funding for Orangefest/Twelfth of July celebrations.

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