Sunday football: Clergyman plans protest at stadium

Retired Free Presbyterian Minister Rev David McIlveen
Retired Free Presbyterian Minister Rev David McIlveen
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Among those strongly opposed to playing the Sunday game at Windsor Park is retired Free Presbyterian minister, Rev David McIlveen.

Rev McIlveen, who has already stated his intention to organise a protest outside the stadium, said the Province has a long tradition of respecting the Sabbath Day.

“We believe that while there have been changes over these past 20 to 30 years, we still feel that there is something being preserved in Northern Ireland that is profitable and beneficial to all the people in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Having it on a Sunday is actually discriminating against people who are involved in football but who through religious convictions will not take part on a Sunday, and we commend them for that.”

The former Sandown Road minister told the BBC: “It is an issue we feel very passionately about. There is a section of people who feel very strongly that the preservation of the Sabbath Day is a fundamental position that we have occupied in Northern Ireland for many years.

“There are so many consequences of sport being played on a Sunday that have had a detrimental effect upon society in general.”

A similar row erupted in 2010 when plans to host the annual Belfast city marathon on a Sunday – rather than the traditional Bank Holiday Monday – led to a backlash from Christians.

The then moderator of the Presbyterian Church, the Rev Dr Stafford Carson, said that a significant part of the community would “no longer be able to give the event their full support” if the date was changed. The marathon has continued to take place on a Monday.