FIFA ruling - guaranteeing rights
Paul Butler has welcomed the clarification provided to the FAI guaranteeing a continuation of the right of northern born Irish citizens to represent the Republic of Ireland at international soccer level.
Speaking on the matter, Paul Butler said," Sinn Fein welcomes the clarification provided to the Football Association of Ireland on Saturday evening regarding the Tokyo statement by FIFA's Executive Committee.
"The present rules, as re-affirmed by the Executive Committee, have enabled northern-born Irish citizens like Darron Gibson to represent the Republic of Ireland already, and we are interpreting this as an acceptance by FIFA that that may continue.
"FIFA's Executive Committee simply decided against altering the current rules of eligibility. Those rules, according to Circular 901, state clearly that the additional criteria for eligibility would come into effect "if a player changes his nationality or if he accepts another nationality simply in order to be able to play for the new national team." Clearly, neither grounds apply for Irish citizens born in the six counties, whose Irish citizenship is an inalienable right from birth.
"Once again, I would express the dismay of the nationalist community in the north of Ireland that the Irish Football Association have decided to pursue this agenda, a campaign which has once again tarnished the image of that organisation within the broad nationalist community in the north of Ireland. It is now time for the IFA leadership to publicly accept the hurt and angst caused in the community by their antagonistic campaign to date and to now concede the right of Irish citizens born in the north to represent either international soccer teams playing on the island."