Belfast Telegraph

Robinson and McGuinness's Ryder Cup trip a nice substitute for one that got away

By Noel McAdam

It is only three months since Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness missed out on a World Cup football trip because of priorities back home.

The First Minister cancelled an investment trip to Brazil because of fears of trouble during the summer marching season.

And the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness then revealed he had not accepted an invitation for the trade mission in the first place.

They were invited to visit the Latin American country by Marfrig, the Brazilian agri-food giant which is now Northern Ireland's largest private sector employer, owning Moy Park. It was one of the sponsors of the World Cup which finished the day after July 12. Had the DUP leader and Sinn Fein figure travelled, they would be expected to attend one or more matches as Marfrig's guests – possibly even the final.

The two men had already visited Marfrig's headquarters in Sao Paulo in March of last year.

But Mr Robinson said: "I just think things are so serious that to be out of Northern Ireland at this time would be entirely wrong."

At the time, a senior Stormont source denied that any trip could be described as a "World Cup junket" and could help in the securing of hundreds of jobs.

The rival politicians would see more football if they stayed at home and watched it on television than if they took long-haul flights to engage in a trade mission, the source said.

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