Koori footy: Police join debate

By ALEX EASTON

THE Northern Rivers' top cop has backed Lismore mayor Merv King's claims that Lis- more cannot accommodate the thousands expected to visit the city for an Aboriginal football carnival this year. However, that support has failed to calm fears from some councillors the decision to block the carnival could be seen as racist. Richmond Local Area Com- mand Superintendent Bruce Ly- ons yesterday praised the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout Carnival, describing its organisers as professional. Supt Lyons said he had pre- viously commanded regions which had hosted the carnival and had found the crowds bet- ter behaved than many main- stream rugby league crowds. However, he said the short- age of accommodation in Lis- more on the Labour Day long weekend, when the event was planned, meant it would be im- possible to house all of the up- to 10,000 people travelling to the event. "It's not just a four-day event," Supt Lyons said. "People come from all over NSW and it's not uncommon for them to remain in the area after the four days are up." Supt Lyons said he was con- cerned people who travelled to Lismore for the carnival could find themselves with nowhere to stay. One of the event organisers, Ricky Lyons of the Merritt-Pat- ten Redfern RLFC, said organis- ers still wanted the event held in Lismore and would attend Tuesday's extraordinary council meeting to press their case. If the council did vote to re- ject the event, the organisers would approach Ballina, where they had already won in-princi- ple backing from the local foot- ball club. If Ballina Shire Coun- cil also rejected the carnival, they would return to Sydney. Ballina Shire Council general manager Paul Hickey said the council had not been ap- proached by the organisers, but if they did it would look at their proposal. Lismore Boomerang Cricket Club committee member Reese Roma also bought into the is- sue, saying the carnival was the 'modern day corroboree' for Aboriginal people. Mr Roma said the selection of Lismore for the carnival was 'a huge honour bestowed on the Aboriginal community and Lismore as a city'. Lismore councillor Ros Irwin said groups wanting to hold sporting events in the city were not usually asked about their accommodation and trans- port arrangements and, despite Supt Lyon's comments, she still feared Lismore could be tagged as racist over the issue.



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