Sports

Keeping the wheels turning

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Keeping the wheels turning thumbnailNorth West 200 boss Mervyn Whyte has previously spoken of his concerns over funding

THE very existence of two and four wheel motorsport in Northern Ireland is under renewed threat unless government departments and public bodies start to recognise its true value.

The stark warning has been issued by the Chairman of a new government Motorsport Taskforce that was launched at the start of the year by former Communities Minister, Paul Givan.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has said the public sector can no longer afford to take home-grown international events such as the North West 200 and Circuit of Ireland Rally for granted.

Between them in 2016, the two competitions received less than 500,000 in funding whereas support for this year’s Irish Open Golf Tournament in Portstewart ran well into six figures.

Both the Circuit of Ireland’s Event Director – Bobby Willis – and his North West 200 counterpart - Mervyn Whyte - have raised similar concerns. A lack of Stormont backing led to the cancellation of this year’s Circuit – the world’s third oldest rally – while despite contributing 10m to the Northern Ireland economy, Tourism NI wrote Mr Whyte a cheque for 80,000.

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