A DECISION not to play God Save the Queen before the Irish Cup final on Saturday, will not set a precedent for international matches, a delegation of DUP members were told.
The Irish Football Association held a meeting with the DUP, where they were questioned over the decision to have no anthem before the final between Cliftonville and Glentoran at Windsor Park on Saturday.
“We pressed the IFA about the standing of the decision taken by the Committee and the procedures used. The IFA have promised to provide the detailed information about this and I look forward to receiving it,” said Michelle McIlveen who was joined by party colleagues David Hilditch, William Humphrey, Edwin Poots and Jim Shannon
She added: “We were fully reassured however that this decision by the Challenge Cup Committee has no impact upon the National Anthem at international matches. This was one of the concerns we raised with the IFA representatives.
“I know many football fans were concerned that some people would use this incident to re-open an unnecessary debate on that issue.
“Whilst we outlined our belief that the National Anthem should be played at the Irish Cup Final it is also important to stress that Saturday should only be about football.
“There should be nothing done by anyone which would take away from the sporting occasion and which would only damage the reputation of a sport which is open and welcoming to everyone in our society.”
The Ulster Unionist Party also sent a delegation to meet with IFA officials.
“We had a positive meeting and took the opportunity to convey the concerns felt by the community in east Belfast and further afield and expressed our deep concern at the potential implications of the decision taken not to play the National Anthem,” said Michael Copeland.
“I remain unconvinced that those members of the IFA’s Challenge Cup committee who took the decision fully realised the potential implications of their actions.
“This is certainly something which local football could have done without.”
Alderman Jim Rodgers added: “I know the east Belfast community is looking forward to the match and hoping to see Glentoran bring the Irish Cup back to the Oval for the first time since 2004 and I would appeal to people attending the match not to let this foolish decision regarding the Anthem to heighten tensions and risk spoiling what is traditionally the biggest domestic football occasion of the year.”