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Varadkar dismisses scathing report on grant for Taylor's boxing club

The transport minister says a newspaper report about Bray Boxing Club gives the impression that “nothing is being done”.

Four-time world boxing champion Katie Taylor's boxing club, St Fergal's in Bray, currently does not have its own working toilets or showers.
Four-time world boxing champion Katie Taylor's boxing club, St Fergal's in Bray, currently does not have its own working toilets or showers.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

THE MINISTER for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, has criticised a newspaper report which he believes unfairly portrays the government as making no effort to improve facilities in the gym used by Irish world champion boxer and Olympic hopeful Katie Taylor.

A report in today’s Sunday Independent says a grant of €24,000 – being given to St Fergal’s Boxing Club in Bray for what the paper describes as a “total refit” – woul d barely be enough to install a toilet and shower in the club.

The report quotes Taylor’s father and trainer Peter, who said Taoiseach Enda Kenny was “pretty shocked” at the state of the club’s facilities when he visited the club earlier this week.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane Show, however, Varadkar said the grant given to the club this year had only ever been intended to cover the cost of installing a toilet and shower – and said a more comprehensive refitting of the gym was to be covered by separate funding.

“We allocated around €1.5 million specifically for boxing clubs, specifically because they’re so strong in disadvantaged areas, and specifically for women’s boxing,” Varadkar said.

“I think they [Bray] applied for €25.000, which they got, which is enough for the toilets and showers.”

‘Everything we can’

The minister acknowledged that the club probably does not currently have access to toilet or shower – with the Sunday Independent reporting that members are required to use the facilities of a nearby pub – “work is underway” on addressing this.

Varadkar said another larger grant to take care of an overhaul for the main gym – which charges members €4 a week – was currently being arranged in partnership with Bray town council, and said it was inaccurate to suggest that the €24,000 funding was intended to cover this too.

“If you read that paper you’d get the impression that nothing was being done,” Varadkar said, adding: “We’re doing everything we can, within reason, to support [Katie Taylor] – and the whole country is behind her.”

The Bray club is also the home to Olympic entrant Adam Nolan. With this year’s games being the first time that women’s boxing has appeared on the programme, St Fergal’s is thought to be the first boxing club in the world to produce both a male and female Olympian.

Read: Mum’s the word as Katie Taylor’s mother to take part in Dublin’s Olympic torch relay

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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