Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016: McGuinness will be at game because he's 'Deputy First Minister for everyone'

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Martin McGuinness has said he is "absolutely" looking forward to attending his first Northern Ireland match.

But the veteran republican, who believes there would be greater success with an all-Ireland football team, does not know how some fans will react to his presence at the Parc des Princes today.

He said: "I don't know if there will be opposition to my presence. But, it has been in the media that I am going and I have not heard anybody utter any discordant notes about it."

Despite being an avid sports fan, Mr McGuinness has never attended a home Northern Ireland game at Windsor Park.

"People will no doubt read into it whatever they want, but I am the Deputy First Minister and I want to be a Deputy First Minister for everybody," he said.

He also insisted his attendance should not become a distraction from activities on the pitch where he hopes Michael O'Neill's men can get at least a draw against Germany in their final group game.

"I don't think there's anybody looking to turn this into a political event," he said.

First Minister Arlene Foster will not be at the game, but she will be watching on TV and cheering the team on. She was at the Poland match in Nice last Sunday and believes fans are in for another night to remember.

"Having had the pleasure of joining the Green and White Army in Nice for the game against Poland, I know just how special the atmosphere will be in Paris for this match against Germany," she said.

Meanwhile, the family of Robert "Archie" Rainey - who died last Thursday while supporting Northern Ireland in France - praised the public for all their support.

"We would like to thank everyone for the huge support and kind messages that we have received since Dad died in France," they said.

"It has been a great comfort to us in this difficult time. We would also respectfully ask for privacy, so that we can be together with friends and family to grieve our loss."

Fans plan to pay tribute to Mr Rainey at tonight's game.

Belfast Telegraph