Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Belfast reception for Northern Ireland and Republic football teams may spark massive loyalist protest, warns PUP

By Suzanne Breen

Published 04/01/2016

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is lifted into the air by his players after the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is lifted into the air by his players after the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland Manager celebrates with his players after Thursday evening's game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's manager Micheal O'Neill (C) celebrates with Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (L) and Gareth McAuley (R) after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Gareth McAuley of Northern Ireland celebrates after this evenings Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Gareth McAuley of Northern Ireland celebrates after this evenings Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans wave a banner in the stands reading "Northern Ireland welcome to France Euro 2016" during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland Steven Davis (not pictured) celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's manager Micheal O'Neill (C)c celebrates his team's second goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland midfielder Steven Davis (C) celebrates with Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley (R) after scoring his team's third goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (centre, left) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill (right) during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (not pictured) scores his side's second goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis scores his side's second goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Stuart Dallas of Northern Ireland (2nd L) and Vasilis Torosidis of Greece (R) during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Greece's Alexandros Tziolis (left) and Panagiotis Kone (centre) battle for the ball with Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Golfer Rory McIlroy during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland team celebrate Steven Davis' first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (right, number 8) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (right, number 8) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley (R) vies for the ball with Greece's forward Kostas Mitroglou during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's midfielder Steven Davis (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Greece's Konstantinos Mitroglou and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (left) battle for the ball during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Greece's Konstantinos Mitroglou and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (left) battle for the ball during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Greece's Panagiotis Kone and Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood (right) battle for the ball the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis in action during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland team before the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (R) vie for the ball with Greece's Andreas Samaris during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Josh Magennis of Northern Ireland (L) and Vangelis Moras of Greece (R) during the Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Greece fans attends the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Johnny Evans before Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/PressEye
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill inspects the pitch before Thursday evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill before Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/PressEye
Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis reads the match day programme before Thursday evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans and Kyle Lafferty during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Ryan McLaughlin , Jonny Evans , Kyle Lafferty and Aaron Hughes during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Conor McLaughlin , Jonny Evans and Kyle Lafferty during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis makes his way off the pitch before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill inspects the pitch before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis reads the match day programme before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The leader of the Progressive Unionist Party has warned that a joint reception for the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland football teams could lead to massive loyalist protests outside Belfast City Hall.

Billy Hutchinson said there could be a return to flag-style protests in the city if the historic reception - which councillors are due to vote on tomorrow night - goes ahead.

Billy Hutchinson
Billy Hutchinson

Alliance councillor Michael Long described the loyalist politician's comments as "extremely worrying".

He said new protests would be a "PR disaster" which would plunge Belfast back into "dangerous and deeply unpleasant times".

Belfast City Council will debate an SDLP motion proposing that the two teams are honoured before they head to France for the 2016 European Championships.

It is the first time in history that the two sides have qualified at the same time and under managers who are both from Northern Ireland.

But Mr Hutchinson (right) raised strong objections to the proposal at the council's strategic policy and resources committee meeting last month. Council colleagues were stunned as he warned that the historic reception, meant to promote reconciliation, could lead to massive protests.

In a reference to Republic of Ireland and West Bromwich Albion midfielder James McClean, the PUP leader said that Premiership players who refused to wear the poppy wouldn't be welcome at City Hall.

Last night Mr Hutchinson told the Belfast Telegraph that a joint reception for the two teams would lead to a similar reaction to the council decision to fly the Union flag on designated days only. "I warned them over removing the flag, that it would lead to protests should they go down that road," he said. "It will be the same again."

When asked about his comments on James McClean, Mr Hutchinson said it was disgraceful that a Premiership player "earning £40,000 or £50,000 a week" for an English team then refused to wear a poppy.

Ireland's striker Jonathan Walters (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from a penalty during a UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's striker Jonathan Walters (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from a penalty during a UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters scores his sides first goal of the game from the penalty spot during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Jon Walters of Republic of Ireland scores from the penalty spot during the Euro 2016 play-off second leg between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saves an attempt on goal by Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland fans Shane Peppard (centre) with his son Clayton, aged 9, (left) and nephew Sean, 12, from Clondalkin during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
James McCarthy of the Republic of Ireland goes past the tackle from Edin Cocalic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman and Bosnia and Herzegovina's Senad Lulic (rear) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
Senad Lulic of Bosnia and Herzegovina takes on Seamus Coleman of the Republic of Ireland iduring the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters (right) has a chance saved by Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (left) during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
Wes Hoolahan (R) of Republic of Ireland and Ognjen Vranjes (L) Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Republic of Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Young Ireland supporters show their support ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
A Republic of Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Bosnia and Herzegovina fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans take pictures of there team warming up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
A Bosnia and Herzegovina fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Fans make their way into the ground before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Scarves on sale by street sellers before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Republic of Ireland fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Ireland's Seamus Coleman during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: The Bosnia and Herzegovina team warm up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Roy Keane (C) of the Republic of Ireland warms up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane looks on as his players warm up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Young Ireland supporters show their support ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland supporters outside the stadium before the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
A general view of the electronic scoreboad and hoarding boards ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A general view of the Aviva Stadium ahead of the the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

"My attitude is 'When in Rome, do what the Romans do,'" he added.

Unionist councillors are opposing the proposal for a joint reception.

The DUP's Brian Kingston said inviting the Republic was inappropriate as Northern Ireland was the national team. Jim Rodgers of the Ulster Unionists said he would prefer a reception for "the British Isles teams" which would include England and Wales.

However, no DUP or UUP councillors have joined Mr Hutchinson in suggesting the reception would lead to protests on the streets. SDLP councillor Declan Boyle, who is proposing the motion, said: "I'm extremely disappointed in Billy Hutchinson's comments.

"I fail to see how anybody could find anything threatening in the idea of a joint reception. It is aimed at promoting reconciliation and unity, not division.

"I proposed this motion to celebrate the sporting success of Michael O'Neill and Martin O'Neill and their teams. In 2016, Northern Ireland should be mature enough to do that." Mr Long said: "I was very concerned and very surprised when Billy Hutchinson said there could be a return to flag-style protests if the council went ahead with this reception.

"That was a dangerous and deeply unpleasant time in this city that we all thought was over. It never occurred to me that anybody would want to protest about inviting a football team to City Hall."

Mr Long said that bringing protesters back onto the streets would be "unhelpful to promoting a positive image" of Belfast.

The motion is likely to be approved tomorrow with Alliance, SDLP and Sinn Fein support. Dublin City Council has already voted to invite both teams to a historic reception in the Republic's capital.

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph