The inaccessibility to northern Sky Sports subscribers of national broadcaster RTÉ’s coverage of the recent World Cup qualifier against Wales has been raised in the Seanad by Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
The Buncrana-based senator said there was a ‘sense of grievance’ among TV viewers in the North due to RTÉ feeds being geo-blocked by Sky Sports, which holds the licence to show the games in the United Kingdom.
“I would like to raise the issue of access to the broadcasts of games involving our international soccer team in the North of Ireland.
“If Sky Sports has the rights to the games, it denies access to them to free-to-air viewers. There is a sense of grievance about this. The man of the match and goalscorer in the Republic’s most recent game was James McClean from Derry while the manager is Martin O’Neill, another Derryman. There is a strong contingent from the North of Ireland.
“Unfortunately, the nationalist community in the North of Ireland follows the Irish football team. They do not connect to the football team in the North of Ireland for reasons that are well documented historically. There is a grievance and this issue needs to be addressed.”
He added: “They want to be more connected to the rest of the island culturally and in every other way. Is there a way to resolve this issue to make sure Irish citizens in the North of Ireland who want to watch their football team the same as everybody else free-to-air can do so and not have to pay through Sky Sports?”