Belfast Telegraph

Dumping of anthem at Irish Cup final defended by IFA chiefs

Football chiefs have defended their decision to ditch the national anthem at next month’s Irish Cup final clash between Cliftonville and Glentoran.

The IFA’s Challenge Cup Committee decided against playing the anthem before the Windsor Park decider on May 4 in order to create a “politically neutral environment”.

But some fans have described the decision as “disgraceful” and as “potentially inflammatory”.

Glentoran supporters, who come mainly from a Protestant background, have slammed the move on social media sites as a form of appeasement to republicans.

The IFA’s Geoff Wilson last night reiterated that the decision was taken “in the interests of fostering a politically neutral environment”.

Gerard Lawlor, chairman of Cliftonville — whose supporters hail from a mainly Catholic base, last night told the Belfast Telegraph he did not wish to comment.

The club’s vice-president David Begley said: “Talk to the IFA, it’s their decision.”

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