Belfast Telegraph

Republic fans from Northern Ireland excluded from Euro 2012 competition

Irish railway operator Iarnrod Eireann has been criticised after excluding fans living in Northern Ireland from entering a compeition to win tickets to the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 matches.

The railway firm, which also operates the Enterprise service from Belfast to Dublin alongside Translink has defended its decision to effectively snub NI fans of the ROI soccer team.

In its competition rules, Iarnrod Eireann states that only those who are over the age of 18 and residents in the Republic are eligible to apply.

A spokesman for Iarnrod Eireann told the Irish News that the company 'trades in the Republic of Ireland only across its Dart, commuter and Intercity service' and that all competitions carried out by the firm have 'therefore always been open to residents of the Republic of Ireland only which is our core customer and potential customer base'.

However Sinn Fein MLA, Barry McElduff hit back at the decision to deny NI fans the opportunity to enter.

He said: "This is inherently unfair and partitionist...There are not only thousands of supporters from the north that follow the Irish team but Iarnrod Eireann also receives business from many people in the six counties."

Iarnrod Eireann said that while it jointly operates the Enterprise service 'all sales of tickets and marketing and promotional activity' is 'aimed at customers whose journeys originate in ROI'.

Mr McElduff continued: "The fact that some of the players in the Irish team hail from within the north also highlights the absurdity of ruling out residents in this part of Ireland."

The prize offered by Iarnrod Eireann includes tickets for two to all three group games, two Global InterRail passes for one month's unlimited travel across Europe, accommodation for two from June 8-19 at a fan campsite in Poznan, €1000 (£825) spending money, travel insurance and a chance for the winner to guest blog their Euro 2012 experience daily.

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