IFA must accommodate Irish identity to recruit Irish players – McCartney

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has called on Michael O’Neill to withdraw comments made about young footballers who are recruited to play for the Irish national squad.

The Foyle MLA said:

“Michael O’Neill’s comments concerning football players from the north representing their country on the Irish squad are both divisive and unnecessary.

“The Good Friday Agreement protects the right of every citizen in the north to assert their own identity and citizenship.

“Irish footballers in the north who are afforded the honour to represent their country should not be subjected to comments of this nature.

“If Michael O’Neill is concerned with the inability of the IFA to attract Irish players, he must first acknowledge its chronic lack of accommodation for the Irish identity.

“Irish players are denied their national anthem, their national flag, and are often the subject of fan chants in Windsor Park which target Irish players and their identity.

“I am calling on the Irish Football Association (IFA) to publicly refute Michael O’Neill’s comments.”