Ulster Unionists deplore McClenaghan ban from Commonwealth Games

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Ulster Unionists deplore McClenaghan ban from Commonwealth Games

Ulster Unionist MLA, Mike Nesbitt, is calling on the Assembly to pledge its support to Rhys McClenaghan and his fellow gymnasts, Eamon Montgomery and Ewan McAteer, who have been banned from competing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

Mike, who was the Chair of the All-Party Group on Sport in the last mandate and is himself a former Irish international athlete, has expressed outrage at the decision to deny the defending Pommel Horse Champion the opportunity to defend his Gold Medal this summer.


Mike Nesbitt said:


"There is custom and practice going back decades that allows sportspeople from Northern Ireland to represent Northern Ireland, Ireland or Great Britain. Rhys himself has worn both Irish and Northern Irish vests, as have many distinguished sportspeople, Barry McGuigan being just one world class example that reflects how intertwined Britishness and Irishness have become down the centuries.


"The FIG decision flies in the face of the 1998 Belfast Good Friday Agreement, which enshrines each individual's right to self-define as British, Irish or both. The FIG need reminded that this is a binding international agreement and they are attempting to drive a coach and horses through it.


"The Ulster Unionist Party is calling for the Federation to reverse its decision immediately and believe if the Assembly was up and running as it should be, we would secure unanimous support for our motion."