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McCartney calls on Irish government to defend rights of Northerners to be Irish

31 August, 2007


Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney (Foyle) commenting on the continuing attempts by the IFA to block northern residents declaring for the Republic of Ireland soccer team has called on the Irish government to defend rights of Northerners to be Irish.

Mr McCartney said:

"It is time that we had a robust defence by the Irish government of the rights of Northern nationalists to claim Irish citizenship in all circumstances. The Good Friday Agreement -an International Treaty lodged with the United Nations - quite clearly recognises the right of any one born in the North of Ireland to claim either Irish or British citizenship.

"This right should not be dependent on the whims of individual groups, least of all so-called sporting organisations. Once an individual has made the personal decision to declare him/herself an Irish citizen then that should be the end of the matter. It is their inalienable right under an internationally binding Treaty.

"I will be in contact with the Minister for Sport in Dublin demanding that he pro-actively pursues the defence of northern players to play for whichever team they choose if selected."

Mr. McCartney's call comes in the wake of continuing attempts by the IFA to block players born in the north who freely choose to claim to Irish citizenship from playing for the Republic of Ireland soccer team.

The IFA Chief Executive, Howard Wells, has written to FIFA, the world football governing body, in an attempt to secure a ruling blocking northerners from playing for the Republic of Ireland team.

"The Irish government must send out a clear message that it will defend the rights of Irish nationalists as Irish citizens in all circumstances. The Good Friday Agreement recognises the right of Irish people living in the north to their national identity it is not up to the IFA to deny them that right." ENDS

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