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Taoiseach’s call for All Ireland Soccer Team a welcome development – McLellan

8 November, 2013

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Sport, Sandra McLellan has welcomed comments made by an Taoiseach at an All-Ireland conference on sport regarding an All-Irish Soccer Team.

The Taoiseach has suggested that an All-Ireland selection should play England every two years in Croke Park in order to raise funds for the Belfast and Dublin Children’s Hospitals.

“The argument for an All-Ireland Soccer team is unanswerable. It would be in the interests of soccer development in Ireland and would give the best Irish players a better opportunity to play at international tournaments, and would create a more competitive team for international competition.

“It would also be very significant and useful in terms of peace and reconciliation.

“The Taoiseach’s suggestion that an All-Ireland soccer team play against England, to raise money for Children’s Hospitals is therefore very welcome.

“It would be very significant symbolically, and would not only generate huge interest, but I believe would bring all communities on this island closer together.

“The charitable purpose being discussed is worthy, though I would be keen to emphasise, under no circumstances should this become a substitute for properly tax funded Children’s Hospitals, and no excuse to reduce spending on the Children’s Hospitals, North or South.

“Ultimately, we have long been of the view that there is no need for two different international teams on one small island like ours, and that in the long run, that one international team is in everyone’s interest.

“What the Taoiseach is suggesting would provide a welcome opportunity to explore how that might work, and what challenges are there in bringing both associations closer together.”

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