Sunday Life

Bid to KO Shoukri fight

30 January 2005

The organisers of a charity boxing night involving north Belfast UDA 'brigadier' Andre Shoukri still hope to stage the event despite a campaign to scupper it.

Following controversy over the event last week, both the Elim Pentecostal Church and the Hospice for Sick Children withdrew their support for the fight-night, planned for the Ballysillan Leisure Centre next month.

One of the fiercest critics of the project, Belfast Alliance councillor, Naomi Long, was unrepentant yesterday.

"I think this is a distasteful event and has no merit," she said.

Ms Long said she didn't question the integrity of the church, or the Hospice, but added: "I would encourage people to give money to the Hospice, but the money being offered comes with a price and that price is too high.

"The issue is whether or not this is being used to sanitize the image of someone associated with loyalist paramilitaries.

"How would the families of victims feel?"

Pastor Brian Madden of the Elim Church, in Alexandra Park Avenue, accused some elements of the media of misrepresenting the church's role in what was to be a fundraiser for the Children's Hospice.

"The event was planned in good faith by a local businessman," he said.

"It is our view that the giving up of something to help the needy is for all, and not just a selective few, and this has always been the case in Northern Ireland charitable events and elsewhere.

"Unfortunately, on this occasion the good intentions of many have also been misrepresented," he said.

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