Majority back McKay's sports rates bill but falls due to DUP veto
Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said he will not be giving up on relieving the rates burden on local amateur sports clubs.
Speaking after a majority of MLAs voted for his bill to offer 100% rates relief to amateur sports clubs, which was blocked by the DUP, Mr McKay said;
"This has to be one of the worst abuses of the petition of concern we have seen. My proposal to exempt amateur sports clubs from rates, at little extra cost to the budget, was backed by my own party, the UUP, Alliance, SDLP, Green Party, NI21 and Independents. The DUP were the only party not to back it and were very much in the minority.
"This would have resulted in the lifting of a huge burden off our amateur sport clubs. The fact the DUP would have had the opportunity to make amendments to the Bill but chose to kill it at second stage speaks volumes.
"The Finance Minister has said she plans to bring forward her own bill that is an 'enabling bill' which in effect would give the power to make such a decision to the department without any guarantees being placed in legislation.
"I am very concerned that the DUP will try to discriminate against rugby clubs, soccer clubs and other amateur clubs that have bars on their property. My bill would have ensured these clubs would have not been able to get any relief on their licensed premises but on the entirety of the rest of their clubs. I fear these clubs will now get no relief on their grounds at all simply because they have a bar to fundraise for their teams, equipment, etc.
"Clubs need to make their voices heard now to ensure a fair relief is put in place for what is a frontline service in our battle against an increasing public health problem.
"My bill may have fallen this time but If re-elected I will be tabling it again next year as it is too important an issue to give up on."