Press Release

Assembly Committee says Don't Just Watch, Play It

Session: 2009/2010

Date: Thursday, 18 March 2010

Reference: CAL 10/09/10

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure heard evidence today from the GAA, Ulster Rugby and the IFA on the Committee’s inquiry into sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland. Three local sports personalities attended the meeting to encourage their supporters not only to watch them play but to play the sport themselves.

Chair of the Committee, Barry McElduff, MLA said: “The Committee is concerned about the decline in adult participation in sport and physical activity and has recently begun an inquiry into the issue. Today we have been listening to our local sports personalities to get their views on what can and should be done to get more people active.

“There is a link between performance and participation – there is no doubt that having sporting role models who excel on a world stage is a greater motivator to the rest of us to get fit”.

Colin Coates of the NI football team, Bryn Cunningham from the Ulster Rugby team and Ryan Mellon from the GAA all put their views to the Committee on how best to motivate people in Northern Ireland to participate in sport and physical activity on a regular basis.

Barry McElduff continued: “Research here has shown that 31,000 people attend match fixtures each week. We would like to see all those fans not just watching but doing – and getting at least 30 minutes exercise a day five times a week.

“I and a number of Committee colleagues are getting fit for the Sports Relief Challenge on 21 March 2010. It’s not always easy to find the time to exercise but it’s an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.”

The Committee launched the inquiry because it is concerned at the low levels of participation in sport and physical activity among the adult population. The inquiry will produce a report identifying the barriers which prevent more people from getting involved in physical activity and consider solutions to those issues.

You can follow the Committee Members’ progress to get fit for Sports Relief and view their fitness programmes, interviews, photographs and videos at

Notes to Editors:

Under the Programme for Government 2008-2011, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has a target for halting the decline in adult participation in sport and physical recreation by securing 53% participation. The Committee is concerned that all steps are taken as necessary to meet that target.

Within that framework the Committee will specifically:

  • Identify the main groups within the adult population which have lower levels of participation than the average rate for adults;
  • Identify and analyse the issues particular to each of these main groups which act as a barrier to participation;
  • Consider solutions particular to each of these main groups which could lead to higher levels of participation, including considering examples of best practice from other countries and regions;
  • Report to the Assembly making recommendations to the Department and/or others.

Committee Membership:

The Chairperson of the Committee is Mr Barry McElduff MLA.
The Deputy Chairperson is Mr David McNarry MLA

The Committee has a further nine members:

Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
The Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

The Clerk to the Committee is Kathryn Bell

Committee Office
Northern Ireland Assembly
Room 424 Parliament Buildings
Stormont Estate, Ballymiscaw
Belfast BT4 3XX
Telephone: 028 90 521841
Fax: 028 90 521355
E Mail:

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