DUP were first to lower Olympic expectations…

IF this contrite statement is anything to go by, DUP Sports Minster Nelson McCausland must have hauled Sport NI chief executive Eamonn McCartan over the coals for listing off on TV reasons why we weren’t attracting Olympic interest. McCartan told the BBC that no Olympic teams had committed to train here for the 2012 Games due to our violent image, the threat from dissidents, geographical location, travel costs and access to Olympics venues.

His despondent forecast neatly echoes, er, fellow DUP Assemblyman Peter Weir, who rightly predicted back in July that Northern Ireland faced “an uphill battle” to attact Olympic interest. He added: “The idea that Northern Ireland is ultimately ever going to get a major chunk of the activities surrounding the Olympics is, I think, a degree of wishful thinking on some people’s parts.”

…and presumably nothing to do with the fact that Northern Ireland’s first Olympic-sized pool won’t be ready in time for the Olympics, despite the original target completion date of two years ago and offering our only chance of getting a team of swimmers (not divers) to train here. It’s in Weir’s North Down constituency, natch.

Combine that with the fact that the Maze stadium project is dead (on the DUP’s watch too), the debacle over submitting bids for training camps minutes after the deadline expired, the relatively pitiful number of construction bids secured by NI companies, and the diversion of Lottery funding from projects here to subsidise the Olympics and it’s entirely possible that the Olympics will not only pass us by completely, but that we’ll be out of pocket too.

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  • Chris Donnelly

    Gonzo
    Well said, on all fronts. It is incredible that the other political parties have not got in first with this. McCartan was merely stating the facts. The Maze project not only died on the DUP’s watch, but was indeed a victim of said party.

    You could have added that the violence broadcast throughout the world, instigated by Nelson and his Orange colleagues marching through the Ardoyne flashpoint, hardly helped the Olympic cause.

  • “the Maze stadium project is dead (on the DUP’s watch too)”

    BG, you could have added that pressure for the preservation of part of the site to be essentially a paramilitary commemoration shrine provided cover for those who wanted the stadium in Belfast. The DUP wasn’t the only party to the debacle.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The Olympics is actually a very bad issue for a DUP Minister of Culture and McCausland will not be holding the post in Olympic year as it is a poisoned challenge.
    The odd thing about the athletes from “Norn Iron” taking part in the London Olympics is that most will be representing…… Ireland.
    I think I am right in saying that in Beijing there were only two on the “Great Britain and Northern Ireland” …a rower from Coleraine (Campbell???) and a girl whose name I cant recall who used tto live in Derry. A cyclist.
    A Coleraine clubmate of the rower was on the Irish team as of course many others.
    Indeed Stephen Martin the Olympic hockey gold winner is the Chief Exec of the Olympic Council of Ireland.
    Therefore the optics of Minister McCausland having the “Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games team” up at Stormont is not an optic he wants repeated in 2012. He will not make himself a hostage to that.

    Mr McCartan was indeed stating the facts but hopefully he will have pointed out to McCausland that ONE Olympic team is training in “Norn Iron” already.
    Last month the Irish Olympic team attended a seminar in Tollymore Forest outside Newcastle, County Down.
    Im surprised McCausland didnt know.

  • George

    Let’s not forget that the DUP also trumpeted the fact that the Olympics will also provide funding opportunities for cultural projects in Northern Ireland associated with the Cultural Olympiad so all is not lost.

    How are they getting along with that I wonder?

  • JAH

    Chris Donnely wrote

    “You could have added that the violence broadcast throughout the world, instigated by Nelson and his Orange colleagues marching through the Ardoyne flashpoint, hardly helped the Olympic cause.”

    Using your er logic you can justify any atrocity. It’s the same logic that defendants in a trial for murder by knife always used.

    “He fell on my knife so it’s his fault” Of course the fact that you just happen to have the knife in your hand doesn’t count, does it?

    We all know that it’s the wingnuts of the RIRA who want to drag the country back 50 years, willed on by TUV and the losers on the other side.

  • George…….as far as i know proposals for the cultural olympiad will start being accepted early next year to give those selected time to prepare etc.

    I think the minister was certainly rattled by Mr McCartan’s comments…why else would he appear that same night on UTV to defend the position and to try to say that actually there were “1000’s” of countries that still hadn’t decided where they were going to be training.
    (and yes he did say 1000’s)

  • vanhelsing

    ‘You could have added that the violence broadcast throughout the world, instigated by Nelson and his Orange colleagues marching through the Ardoyne flashpoint, hardly helped the Olympic cause’

    Err..really. I though that the four days of violence was instigated by the dissident terrorists who had planned and orchestrated it. Or maybe I was watching a different news item…Heck even the shinners had no control over the forces at work…

    On the subject of Olympic teams coming over here to train – we need to work hard on the image of NI being welcoming and open for business.

    Whilst agreeing with some of the Eamonn McCartans comments – not sure it helps our cause listing them on air?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The civil servant in question may have been right, but it is nonetheless not for civil servants to make comments of this nature in public.

    The civil service, together with various quangoes here, still haven’t got used to the idea that they are accountable to ministers and that the assembly is supposed to create legislation.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    It does of course make sense to say that civil servants are responsible to Ministers.
    But a civil servant surely has the right to blow the whistle on ministerial screw up.
    Thats the problem with a five party coalition.
    When “our” Minister (Ford, Attwood, McGimpsey, McCausland, Gildernew) screw up…..its the fault of the civil servants.
    When “your” Minister screws up…..well clearly its not the fault of his/her civil servants.

  • Comrade Stalin

    But a civil servant surely has the right to blow the whistle on ministerial screw up.

    Not if he wants to keep his job he doesn’t.

    Thats the problem with a five party coalition.

    It’s nothing to do with the number of parties in the government.

    When “our” Minister (Ford, Attwood, McGimpsey, McCausland, Gildernew) screw up…..its the fault of the civil servants.

    Irrespective of whom it is, dumping the blame is only something you can get away with once or twice. Sometimes it works eg. John Reid’s infamous “not fit for purpose” admonishment of the entire Home Office a few years back, which I think followed problems with confidential data being leaked. The public will become suspicious if the minister isn’t able to drive the reforms required to fix the problems.

  • iluvni

    Scrapping the Maze stadium was the best decision on any issue to come out of the farce pretending its effective government up at Stormont,

  • Nelson McCausland

    Moochin Photoman – I actually said ‘hundreds of countries and thousands of teams’.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    There are 205 “countries” in the International Olympic movement.
    With 51 signed up to places more delightful than Norn Iron in July…..that would leave 154 still to be convinced. So not “hundreds of countries”

  • Perhaps the atletes aren’t coming because, lets be honest, where are the elite facilities which Sebasian Coe assured us were sure to come to Northern Ireland when the London Olympics were announced several years ago. Looks like the swimming pool won’t be ready in time and what about all the hype of a cycling velodrome. Seems to me that all the money is heading to London…so don’t expect any teams to travel here to train. It’s nothing to do with our image…….it’s just we are a third world country as far as sport is concerned.

  • aquifer

    The DUP have reason to ditch the Olympics. The team is called GB, a standing rebuke to Unionist wannabee brits, and a reminder of Ian Paisley’s success in making this place nothing Brits want to be part of.

    Also, more young people from here may be on the Irish Olympic teams than wearing GBR vests.