Northern Ireland

Carl Frampton: Assembly needs to return before any discussion on United Ireland

Carl and Christine Frampton
Carl and Christine Frampton Carl and Christine Frampton

A fully-functioning Stormont Assembly needs to return before there is any discussion on a United Ireland, says Carl Frampton.

Northern Ireland’s only ever two-weight world boxing champion listed health, education and public transport as his priorities among the many issues that urgently need to be addressed.

“I’m not a political person, I don’t like to get involved in politics,” replied the former Irish international when asked for his views on a United Ireland.

“I’m all for democracy and whatever happens, happens. What I do know is that we don’t have an assembly here and we need to get that fixed and get the schools sorted, transport sorted, hospitals sorted, Lough Neagh sorted…

“My daughter doesn’t have a school bus anymore and a lot of this is down to what is going on in Stormont and the failings there. So we need to get that sorted before we discuss anything else.”

Frampton, a Protestant who grew up in the Loyalist Tigers Bay area, and his wife Christine, a Catholic from West Belfast, have been viewed as role models but the former Las Vegas bill-topper insists that their story is nothing special.  

“The whole thing about me and Christine coming from different sides. Everybody is going with somebody from the other side these days,” he says.

“It’s not as if it’s unique to us. Even (Barry) McGuigan and Sandra did it, although they weren’t in the middle of Belfast.

“A big deal gets made out of it but if people want to look on me as a role model then that’s nice isn’t it?”

Even throughout the worst of the Troubles, boxing brought all sides of the community together and, as someone who benefitted from that, Frampton is an advocate for integrated education in the north.

Currently around eight per cent of schools here are integrated and that needs to change, he says.

“I think it would do a lot for people if we can be taught together and mix together,” he said.

“Without boxing I wouldn’t have crossed paths with too many Catholics. I didn’t do it in school. They used to run cross-community primary school trips and my primary school, Grove, and St Patrick’s in the New Lodge used to go on trips together but it probably made things worse because we didn’t integrate at all.

“We used to go to the YMCA or somewhere and we’d be on one side of the room and they’d be on the other and you’d be going ‘What are you lookin’ at?’ It seems unnatural that there’s a split in the schools but my old school Glengormley High is now integrated and if you’d have said that to me when I was there I’d have laughed at you.

“If my old school, situated where it is, can do it then I hope other schools follow.”