Belfast Telegraph

McGuinness eyes Windsor Park match

Martin McGuinness has revealed he would cheer on the Northern Ireland football team and hopes to get the chance on a visit to Windsor Park.

With many nationalists hostile to the international team, viewing its home stadium in south Belfast as a cold house for Catholics, the remarks from the Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister potentially represent another landmark in improving cross-community relations.

The republican veteran's stated willingness to attend a Northern Ireland game comes days after First Minister Peter Robinson was guest at his first Gaelic football match - a sport almost exclusively associated with the nationalist tradition.

The DUP leader sat beside Mr McGuinness at the Dr McKenna Cup final between Tyrone and Derry in Armagh on Saturday.

Last year, Sinn Fein culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin became the first high-profile member of her party to go to a Northern Ireland match.

But the sight of self-confessed former IRA commander Mr McGuinness at Windsor Park would be even more significant.

In an interview with UTV News, the deputy First Minister was asked if he would go to a match.

"I would be quite willing to do that," he said. "That would present no difficulty for me whatsoever. I probably would know more about soccer than Peter would know about Gaelic football. But no, I wouldn't have a difficulty about going to such a game.

"I think that all of us recognise that people do look at these situations and they make judgments about your broadmindedness, your openness and your willingness to reach out on the basis of whether or not you're prepared to show people in our entire community that you are prepared to respect what they love and what they represent.

"And the trick is to do it without compromising your political viewpoint. And Peter, when he went to the game in Armagh, the McKenna Cup final, did so without compromising his political views and opinions. And that would be absolutely the same for me."

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