Irish MMA’s Regulation Push Brought up in Dáil

The legalisation on Mixed Martial Arts in Ireland is a hot topic once more as Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews raised the subject in a sitting of the Dail of Wednesday afternoon.

The Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA) was founded in 2015 to organise and develop Amateur MMA in Ireland. Their goal, which is being spearheaded by chairman Tim Murphy, is to achieve National Governing Body status and recognition of  MMA as a legitimate sport, suitable for all ages and levels of ability.

Chris Andrews, who is the Sinn Féin spokesperson on sport, raised the issue about the legalization of MMA in Ireland on Wednesday. He spoke to Minister of Sport Catherine Martin about the difficulties that IMMAA are having in being recognised as a National Governing Body.

“Mixed Martial Arts has grown immensely over the last decade. The participation in IMMA is very diverse. If you walk into any MMA club you will see a diverse mix of people ranging from young office workers, construction workers, young and old. Along with that we see mix of nationalities training side-by-side.”

“We have also seen the potential of what amatuer MMA can offer young people through such programs as the ‘MMA Coaching and Education Program’ in Drogheda. The aim of that program is to provide help and support for young people caught up in antisocial activity, and help them out of that particular path.”

“IMMAA has introduced safety standards for amatuer athletes involved in MMA to an exceptionally high standard, higher than any other contact sport under the remit of Sport Ireland. IMMAA have consistently represented Ireland at an international level. At the 2018 amatuer MMA world championships Ireland came second on the medals table, amatuer athletes deserve proper recognition.”

“There is currently no clear path for IMMAA to become recognised as an NGB (National Governing Body) despite their best efforts. There is an urgent need for intervention to ensure that there is equal treatment granted in the application process of IMMAA in their quest of NGB status and that the recommendations of the Coroner’s Court are implemented. I think that really is vital.”

“While I welcome the development of this working group on this issue, I really do feel that the process is being used to block recognition of IMMAA as an NGB under Sport Ireland. It will only be through meaningful engagement that we will see IMMAA progress into this status. I really and truly believe that there is a snobbery and the “old boys club” will not let MMA be recognised in this country.”

IMMAA chairman Tim Murphy spoke to SevereMMA about the latest developments.

“We would like to thank Chris Andrews TD and Ruairí Ó Murchú TDfor raising the issue of Sport Ireland recognition for MMA in the Dáil. Unfortunately, to date we have received nothing but roadblocks from the Irish Martial Arts Commission(IMAC) who act as the umbrella NGB for martial arts in Ireland. The quotes referencedby Chris are attributed to IMAC. They are deeply troubling to us and they wouldlead us to seriously question whether or not those involved in this process aregenuinely acting in good-faith. Because of the issues raised by the IMMAA to both Sport Ireland and political representatives the MMA would call on allinvolved to engage in this process in an open and honest way.  Our aim is to overcome this hurdle and then get back to putting all our focus on the job of providing safe training environments to our 1000s of members countrywide who look forward to representing their country with pride on the international stage through IMMAF amatuer competition.”

IMMAA select and enter teams, representing Ireland, in MMA European and World Championships and other International events. At the IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain in November 2018, Ireland claimed 8 medals with 3 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals, rounding out a hugely successful tournament for Ireland.

SBG head coach John Kavanagh is the president of IMMAA, Team Ryano’s head coach Andy Ryan is the vice president of the organisation. Andy is also the National Head Coach for Senior IMMAF athletes and Phil Mulpeter is the National Head Coach for Youth Athletes.

IMMAA also consists of Deano Wade who is General Secretary, Liam Og Griffin who is the treasurer and Kevin Moran, Oisin McCabe, Danny Corr, Alvina Mulpeter and Liadain O’Driscoll who are all board members at IMMAA. Aisling O’Connor doubles down as the administrator and is also a part of the IMMAA women’s commision along with the help of Alvina Mulpeter, Deborah O’Sullivan and Catherine Costigan.

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.