Sinn Feín MLA wants Northern Ireland boss to withdraw 'divisive' Catholic player comments

Sinn Feín MLA wants Northern Ireland boss to withdraw 'divisive' Catholic player comments

A SINN FÉIN MLA has call on Northern Ireland national team manager Michael O’Neill to withdraw his comments about the Football Association of Ireland’s recruitment process.

Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney described the comments as ‘divisive and unnecessary‘.

In an interview with the Irish Daily Mail, O’Neill said the FAI only ever approach Catholic players.

He added that he had a problem with young players having to make a decision on their international futures.

However McCartney has called on the Irish Football Association, Northern Ireland’s governing body, to refute their manager’s comments.

Irish identity

“Michael O'Neill's comments concerning football players from the north representing their country on the Irish squad are both divisive and unnecessary,” he said.

"The Good Friday Agreement protects the right of every citizen in the north to assert their own identity and citizenship.

"Irish footballers in the north who are afforded the honour to represent their country should not be subjected to comments of this nature.

“If Michael O'Neill is concerned with the inability of the IFA to attract Irish players, he must first acknowledge its chronic lack of accommodation for the Irish identity.

“Irish players are denied their national anthem, their national flag, and are often the subject of fan chants in Windsor Park which target Irish players and their identity.

"I am calling on the Irish Football Association to publicly refute Michael O'Neill's comments.”