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Sinn Féin hit out at IFA

7 September, 2007

Sinn Féin has lambasted the Irish Football Association for its bullyboy tactics in attempting to jeopardise the international football career of Darron Gibson.

Paul Butler MLA said,

"Howard Wells and Nigel Worthington are playing a dangerous game in trying to demean the citizenship rights of Irish citizens residing in the north of Ireland. Their collective efforts to block Irish citizens from representing their country at international football level reveals not only an ignorance of FIFA's rulings to date on this issue, but also a political arrogance typified by anti-Agreement unionists who simply refuse to accept the equal legitimacy of the Irish nationalist tradition in the north of Ireland.

"Sinn Féin has made its position very clear to the IFA. The Good Friday Agreement very clear outlined the rights of Irish citizens: such rights will not be filtered through the unionist-minded attitude being exhibited by the Irish Football Association. The new political dispensation on this island must involve organisations like the IFA respecting the rights of Irish citizens, not attempting to ride roughshod over those rights- something Sinn Fein will not be permitting to happen.

"I welcome the unequivocal support on this matter from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, and we in Sinn Féin have written to FIFA underlining the importance of this issue for Irish citizens residing in the north of Ireland. It is time for the IFA to back off before further damage is done to its credibility and reputation." ENDS

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