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FG Senator on the ropes in fight against mixed martial arts

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Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor

Senator Catherine Noone

Senator Catherine Noone

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Conor McGregor

A Fine Gael senator has retracted her calls for Ireland to ban mixed martial arts (MMA) fights here and says she will now undertake training in the sport after coming under-fire for branding it "vile" and "ultra-violent".

Catherine Noone (38) had earlier said Ireland should follow some 30 US states who have not granted permission for the fights.

Senator Noone said: "I have written to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport seeking his views on allowing this vile so-called sport to be given a platform and an audience here and fully believe that this event should not be licensed."

She added she felt it was wrong for the country to publicise such contests.

The comments come despite MMA and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) enjoying an explosion in popularity in Ireland as well as around the world.

Irish fighters Conor McGregor and Cathal Pendred are currently preparing for much-hyped bouts in Boston this weekend.

Expectations are growing that their next fights could be staged in Croke Park or the Aviva Stadium - such is the level of interest in UFC here.

Ms Noone appeared on RTE radio yesterday, insisting she wasn't "a killjoy".

"The salient point is that it does appear to me from my level of knowledge on it that it's very, very violent," she said.

She said she grew up in a house where lots of sports, including boxing, were followed.

However, Senator Noone, who previously called for regulation of ice cream vans due to their "aggressive form of selling", also admitted she was "no expert" in the area of UFC.

She said she had read an article on the sport but admitted she was unsure if she had ever actually watched any UFC fights on television, when speaking on radio to Ryan Tubridy.

"I would just rather this didn't happen in Dublin, I would just rather we didn't entertain this level of violence," she concluded. However UFC followers took to Twitter and other social media sites to criticise Ms Noone's comments - among them Cathal Pendred, who the said the senator's comments were uninformed and ignorant.

He tweeted: "Fair play to Ryan Tubridy. He nipped that in the bud straight away by highlighting an uninformed opinion and severe ignorance of the topic."

Others users said the comments were "embarrassing" and "attention seeking".

After coming under fire for her remarks, she later tweeted that she had been wrong to criticise UFC and would now undertake training to educate herself better on the subject.

"Hands up - jumped the gun re UFC/MMA - lots of offers of training/education which I'll take up," she wrote.

In a statement, the Department of Transport said it had "no role in relation to the licensing of such events".

"Mixed martial arts is not recognised by the Irish Sports Council and consequently does not receive any government funding through the Irish Sports Council," a spokesperson said.

Here is some of the reaction Senator Noone's comments on radio stirred up on Twitter:

Irish Independent