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Arlene Forster says no need to change God Save the Queen NI football anthem

NewsBy Sunday World
Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

Stormont's new First Minister Arlene Foster has said there is no need to "tinker" with the national anthem played before Northern Ireland's football matches.

Mrs Foster, who leads the Democratic Unionists, said the practice of playing the UK anthem God Save The Queen before Northern Ireland fixtures will not change.

The team are preparing for this summer's European Championships in France - their first major tournament for 30 years.

Mrs Foster said: "We have a national anthem, I don't think there is any need to tinker with that, I don't see any reason to change it."

MPs recently debated whether England should adopt its own official song when Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins took his English National Anthem Bill to Parliament on January 13.

Mr Perkins has argued that England competes as a country in its own right and a song celebrating England rather than Britain would be more appropriate.

DUP leader Mrs Foster was named First Minister at the Stormont power-sharing administration on Monday.

She said: "We have a national anthem; I am also very conscious that we don't want to get into the politicisation of sport.

"Sport is something that unites people right across Northern Ireland, people are getting behind our sporting heroes, we are very much looking forward to the European Championships, sport is something that unites us."

She pointed out that the vote related to the English football team, not Northern Ireland.

While many in Northern Ireland will support the Windsor Park-based side during this summer's tournament in France, many others will cheer on the Republic of Ireland, who have also qualified.

A bitter row has broken out at Belfast City Council over a proposal to invite the Republic and Northern Ireland to a reception at City Hall recognising their achievements in qualifying for France, with unionists insisting the other UK qualifiers should also have been invited.