NI football stars invited to City Hall celebration
The Northern Ireland football team has been invited to a Belfast City Hall congratulatory reception after qualifying for the Euro 2016 championships.
Councillor Mervyn Jones proposed the move at last night's monthly council meeting after the side qualified for the competition for the first time - and his suggestion was backed unanimously.
UUP Councillor Jim Rodgers, who spoke to players and officials after the decision, said they were delighted to be invited to the ceremony next Monday. "It has been years and years since the team have been in City Hall," he added.
Preparations are also under way to create a fan zone in the grounds of the building for the tournament next June. There was widespread disappointment last month after a bid to show Northern Ireland's key qualifying match against Greece on the big screen at City Hall was unsuccessful.
The Irish FA made the request but then withdrew it after it became clear the game would be prohibitively expensive to screen. Most of the expense would have come from securing the broadcasting rights from Sky.
The tournament will be shown on BBC and ITV next summer.