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Senator Catherine Noone now backing MMA to be recognised by Irish Sports Council

The Fine Gael senator was speaking at an injury prevention event at the Royal College of Surgeons over the weekend.

Senator Noone (file photo).
Senator Noone (file photo).
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

SENATOR CATHERINE NOONE’s knowledge of mixed martial arts (MMA) appears to have come a long way in a relatively short space of time.

Earlier this month, the Dublin-based Fine Gael senator was calling for the sport to be banned in Ireland but later admitted that she had “jumped the gun” after a backlash on social media sites.

Noone has since received numerous offers from participants and fans of MMA to help educate her and took up one such invite by attending the Injury Prevention in MMA event at the Royal College of Surgeons over the weekend.

During a short talk, she began by accepting that her original remarks were ill-informed.

“This time last week I was in the line of fire for having questioned this sport and suggested we might be wise to ban it in this country,” she said. “I certainly didn’t make any friends in the sport as a result of my comments.”

Having spoken to Professor Dan Healy, the man behind the event, Noone then took the opportunity to express her belief that measures must be taken to make MMA safer — particularly at amateur level.

“There seems to be little doubt that at the professional level, especially with UFC, that the highest standards are applied and every attempt is made to protect fighters from serious harm where possible.

“However, at a more amateur level, which is from what I understand is most common in Ireland, this is not necessarily the case, where amateur fights may not necessarily have the medical backup that is required in order to ensure a safe fighting environment.”

And in an interview with The42 afterwards, Noone revealed that she had spoken at length to Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring about the need for MMA to be recognised by the Irish Sports Council — a status it doesn’t currently hold.

I do think there is a role for somebody at political level to take an interest in the sport and see that it could be developed from a regulatory and safety point of view in a big way,” she added.

“I think that would benefit all concerned. The limbo land that the sport is currently in benefits nobody.

“I came from this from an unusual angle but I would like to think that I could have a positive effect and see if I can make a change .

“I wouldn’t like someone I love to be involved in MMA and, if I have sons or daughters, it wouldn’t be the preferred choice of sport for them. At the same time, it is the fastest growing sport in the world and we should be doing something to get it recognised in this country.

“The safety of the people involved in it at an amateur level around the country is definitely in question from what I have learned. So I would like to play a role.”

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Ben Blake

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