Northern Ireland has a rich sporting and cultural heritage and is a great setting for any event, as proven by the success of the Open last year. While any decision to bid to host major events is a matter for the Executive, my officials are in regular contact with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and their devolved counterparts to support UK-wide events.
The United Kingdom’s involvement in next season’s world rally championship is currently very uncertain: nine of the 11 rounds have already been chosen and GB is not currently part of that choice. The WRC promoter has previously spoken about the need to rotate Rally GB into Northern Ireland, where most of the competitors wish to participate. Can the Secretary of State save the WRC? Will the Secretary of State assist by co-funding the event with the Northern Ireland Executive during our centenary year?
The hon. Gentleman is a consistent and passionate advocate of hosting a round of the world rally championship in Northern Ireland. We can safely say that if it does come to Northern Ireland, he will have been a driving force. In the “New Decade, New Approach” agreement, the Government have already pledged up to £2 billion to help the Executive to deliver on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland, but I would be very happy to support the Executive to foster closer ties and better collaborative working across sectors of the UK to attract the WRC and a portfolio of other events to Northern Ireland.