Northern Ireland

NI to miss out on Commonwealth Youth Games closing ceremony

Commonwealth Youth Games medals are pictured
Image caption A financial agreement was not reached after the collapse of the NI executive

With five days to go until the closing ceremony at the Commonwealth Youth Games, it has been confirmed there will be no official handover to Belfast.

Belfast is due to host the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021 but money to host the games was not released in time.

The collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive has been blamed for putting the event at risk.

The 2017 games are currently underway in the Bahamas and a handover was due to take place in Nassau on Sunday.

Conal Heatley from the NI Commonwealth Games Council (NICGC) has now confirmed that Belfast will not be taking part in the closing ceremony.

Mr Heatley said this is due to the "failure of the executive to confirm support" for the games.

He added that it was a "missed opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland".

Louise Martin, the president of the Commonwealth Youth Games, said the handover will take place later this year.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Carl Frampton is among those who have taken part in previous Games

"With their domestic political situation in limbo, we truly feel for our friends in Northern Ireland," she said.

"It's unfortunate, but not unprecedented - and we will look forward to officially handing over the Youth Games Ceremonial Quaich to Northern Ireland later this year.

"We're sure the Northern Ireland delegation will use their time in the Bahamas wisely to capture lots of information and learnings and ensure a successful event in 2021."

Ms Martin had previously visited Belfast in June to hold crisis talks to try and save Belfast's bid to host the games.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved government [executive] since January, after the coalition collapsed over a green energy scandal.

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Media captionOfficials had previously said they needed signed off papers on the financial release to the organising committee by 29th June

Politicians from all five of Northern Ireland's main political parties attended last month's meeting but the money was not released in time.

The NICGC have said they remain hopeful that a solution can be found to still bring the games to Belfast in 2021, even if they cannot take part in the handover.

"It is up to those at Stormont to provide tangible support so that the project can move forward for the benefit of our young people," they said.

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