Irish politicians slam 'idiots' who booed British national anthem 'God Save the Queen' at Aviva Stadium
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Irish politicians slam 'idiots' who booed British national anthem 'God Save the Queen' at Aviva Stadium

TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney and Health Minister Simon Harris have condemned Republic of Ireland fans who booed the British national anthem before last night's game with Northern Ireland.

Sections of the Green Army faithful were heard booing God Save the Queen at Aviva Stadium as the teams lined up for the international friendly, which ended 0-0.

Some away supporters could be heard engaging in similar behaviour while the Republic’s anthem Amhrán na bhFiann was playing.

Among those in attendance was DUP leader Arlene Foster, who was taking a welcomed break from the ongoing Brexit chaos at Westminster to cheer on the North.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Harris said: "I think it's embarrassing and idiotic – I think it's highly regrettable.

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"The Tánaiste was there at the game last night, and the DUP leader Arlene Foster was there.

"This is meant to be a country of 'Cead Míle Fáilte' – a hundred thousand welcomes – sport is meant to be a unifying event".

Harris added: "After what has been... a very intense week in terms of discussions and political discussions about north, south, east, west relationships – I think everyone was hoping for 90 minutes of a reprieve from that last night.

"It was a minority, albeit a loud minority. But they were quite frankly idiots and it shouldn't have happened."

Mr Coveney reiterated his colleague's criticism of those involved after the game.

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He tweeted: "A small number of idiots booed the National Anthem of Northern Ireland tonight at Aviva.

"Competitive friendly, but Northern Ireland were our guests tonight in Dublin."

In response, Mrs Foster wrote: "Thank you Simon. Otherwise, it was a lovely evening... NI almost clinched it too!"

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Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill also spoke out about the booing in the wake of the match.

"When people come to a football ground, and decide to boo an anthem, that’s their decision,” O’Neill said afterwards.

"I don’t particularly agree with it – I would never condone anyone booing anyone’s anthem – but that’s not something I’m in control of. I don’t want to dwell on that too much, I concentrate on football.

“The game was played in a great spirit, there was great respect between both sets of players... and that’s the most important thing.”