The DUP has shown the red card to the Republic of Ireland’s international football team over plans to wear Easter Rising logos on their shirts in two upcoming friendlies.
The players will wear jerseys containing a reference to 1916 in two games later this month.
The rising in Dublin – which led to hundreds of deaths – was a seminal moment in Irish history which ultimately led to partition and the creation of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The centenary is being marked by a series of events across the Republic over Easter.
Players will wear jerseys referring to 1916 during the two home matches to be played on Good Friday and Easter Tuesday, against Switzerland on March 25 and Slovakia on March 29.
The Republic of Ireland crest is an Irish government logo and requires special permission to be altered.
It is understood discussions about the change have taken place between the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), kit manufacturers Umbro and the Republic of Ireland government.
North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland slammed the FAI for the move.
“Whilst football in Northern Ireland has made huge strides forward it would seem that the Republic of Ireland is happy to wallow in the past,” he said.
“The chief executive of the FAI has previously been filmed singing a song about a PIRA hunger striker. He went on to tell us that songs about IRA terrorists had been ‘sung on the Irish team bus for years’. Now we see the FAI once again endorsing a narrow republican narrative around the Easter rebellion.
“The people of Northern Ireland suffered and continue to suffer from the violence of those who see themselves as the successors of the 1916 rebels. It is notable the design cannot be worn during the European Championships because of rules prohibiting political slogans. It is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, that the FAI might take such a decision.”
Former co-chairman of the NI Conservatives Trevor Ringland advocated a relaxed approach to the Republic of Ireland’s take on its own history, the narrative of which he does not accept and which he believes will be “very difficult to change”.
If it is claimed in his presence that the rising was critical to Irish history, he reserves the right to challenge it.
“If they say this in earshot then it should be pointed out to them that it was not necessary because it [political change] was coming anyway.
“What unionists should never accept and should challenge others on is that violence was necessary to achieve a united Ireland. You cannot unite people by blowing them to bits.
“Any analysis of the time shows that home rule discussions would have led to similar outcomes of dominion status for Ireland which were granted to New Zealand, Australia and Canada. So similar status was going to be given to the southern part of Ireland anyway.”
The FAI had failed to respond to a request for comment.