A Parliament debate on a new English football anthem, which could pave the way for God Save The Queen being dropped by Northern Ireland, is unlikely to gain traction, Kate Hoey has said.
However, the former UK sports minister said the proposed English National Anthem Bill, being introduced by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, could spark a wider debate on the subject of regional anthems.
The private members’ bill will be debated briefly on January 13 under the ‘10-minute rule’ - a mechanism used to gauge the level of support for issues among MPs from other parties.
If momentum builds for the adoption of an England-only anthem, then Northern Ireland would be the only home nation left using God Save The Queen.
Ms Hoey, the current Labour MP for Vauxhall and ardent supporter of Michael O’Neill’s team, said: “Toby Perkins is raising this as an issue of concern to some sports lovers in England.
“It is likely to allow for a general debate but...but a 10-minute rule bill has virtually no chance of becoming law.”
A 10-minute rule bill has virtually no chance of becoming lawKate Hoey MP
The song Danny Boy is used by the Northern Ireland team medal winners at the Commonwealth Games. Scotland and Wales use Flower of Scotland and Land of My Fathers respectively.
If the new bill leads to a serious campaign for an English anthem then a public consultation would be held to choose a replacement. In 2012, prime minister David Cameron said he would support ‘Jerusalem’ as an alternative.
Commenting on his new bill, Mr Perkins said: “England is a component part of the UK but it competes as a country in its own right and I think a song that celebrated England rather than Britain would be more appropriate.”
• Belfast city councillors are on Tuesday expected to vote in favour of inviting both the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland football teams to a civic reception in the city.
Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers has proposed an amendment - to invite the other UK teams who have also qualified for the Euro 2016 finals in France - but said it is unlikely to be passed with only unionist support.
“Extending the invitation to England and Wales, as well as the Republic of Ireland, would be tremendous for all those who love their sport,” he said.