DUP attempt to sign MPs up for football poaching ban is pointless and intimidatory: Sinn Féin

Political football?
Political football?

A bid by the DUP to get MPs to support a ban on the "poaching of Northern Ireland born footballers" by the Republic of Ireland has been branded pointless and intimidatory.

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said Irish footballers should be free to decide which international side they wished to play for without being subject to political pressure.

He was speaking after the DUP tabled a motion at Westminster urging MPs to express "concern over the pursuit of NI born football players by the FAI".

If approved MPs will call for the "Chief Executive of the FAI, John Delaney, to send out a clear message that there will be no poaching of NI players, that the boundary lines will be respected and honoured, and that the game will be played fairly and within the rules".

Mr. McCartney said the DUP should respect the rights of Irish citizens which are protected by the Good Friday Agreement.

“This is a pointless motion from the DUP which is simply aimed at stoking division and resurrecting an issue that has already been dealt with,” said Mr. McCartney.

“Even Michael O’Neill whose divisive and unnecessary comments sparked the latest debate, has since accepted that the FAI has not broken any rules.

“So for the DUP to now suggest this is not the case is equally divisive and unfounded.

"The fact is that the Good Friday Agreement protects the right of every citizen in the north to assert their own identity and citizenship. That is an internationally binding agreement and no amount of DUP Early Day Motions in Westminster is going to change that.

"It is the individual’s choice to make and Irish footballers in the north who are afforded the honour to represent their country should not be subjected this kind of political pressure.

“The DUP should respect their decision and their right to make it,” he said.