Sandy Row club’s sectarian claims

Ian MacSorley of Sandy Row Boxing Club, which is no longer affiliated with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA).
Ian MacSorley of Sandy Row Boxing Club, which is no longer affiliated with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA).

Former Sports Minister Michael McGimpsey has compared Derry City FC with Sandy Row Boxing Club claiming both aren’t affiliated with the main bodies authorising their sports yet one is eligible for funding whilst the other isn’t.

Mr McGimpsey made the claim during a briefing of the Sports Committee last month. The Sandy Row Club, he claims, was disaffiliated by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) for not having proper Access Northern Ireland clearance when it actually did.

In 2012 the club compiled a 57-page dossier outlining what it called “a decade of sectarian and racial abuse” before its suspension from the IABA in 2010. In an exchange with Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, Mr McGimpsey raised the issue of the club, which has over 200 members but is not affiliated with the IABA.

Mr McGimpsey claimed that due to its disaffiliation it was no longer eligible for funding. The South Belfast MLA said the IABA “needs to cancel the disaffiliation; otherwise this division will get worse.”

He went on to claim that the Sandy Row club’s non-affiliation with the IABA was comparable with Derry City FC’s non-affiliation with the Irish Football Association (IFA), the inference being that one is, he believes, eligible for funding whilst the other isn’t.

He said: “I do not want to hog the session, but there is another point. The rule is affiliation, but that is not a rule that applies to, for example, Derry City Football Club, which is not affiliated to the IFA but receives funding. A club’s standing outside the sporting body is not consistent with what happens in other sport. I just make that point, and it is one that I will raise again in the future.”

Despite his claims, the Minister confirmed in 2012 that neither her Department nor its Arm’s-Length bodies awarded Derry City any funding in the previous five years.

And last year she confirmed she had committed no funding to the club. However, the Candystripes does benefit from monies allocated towards the municipal Brandywell football stadium, in which it plays.

Meanwhile, an Independent Working Group set up to examine boxing in Ulster last year recognised ‘chill factors,’ which had exacerbated the sense of alienation at Sandy Row.

Reporting in December 2013 it found the “absence of clear grievance protocols and procedures for the imposition of penalties in the case of the incidents that were perpetrated against Sandy Row contributed to the escalation of the current dispute and seriously exacerbated the sense of alienation in the Sandy Row club.”

It stated: “So called ‘chill factors’ are cultural displays, attitudes and behaviours which, whether intentional or not, create a sense of anxiety, alienation or hostility for people from outside the community. The emphasis on the experience of the outsider rather than the intent of the person displaying the behaviour means that the ‘chill’ is often not noticed or not taken seriously by the person or group displaying the behaviour.

“This in turn often creates defensiveness when chill factors are raised by outsiders, which are regarded as ‘unimportant’ by insiders.

“These matters must therefore be approached both firmly and sensitively. In a divided society like Northern Ireland the potential for chill factors to operate for those coming from outside, especially those identified with communities regarded as ‘the other’, is enormous.

“Over time this can amount to a sustained experience of psychological intimidation. “Likewise, however, the potential for creating greater difficulties through the handling of these sensitive issues is considerable.”