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I will respect anthem at Windsor - SF Minister



Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

Freddie Parkinson

Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey has declared that she intends to show respect for the national anthem when she attends her first Northern Ireland international at Windsor Park.

The Sinn Fein politician is hoping that will be on March 31 when Northern Ireland will face the Republic of Ireland in a mouthwatering and potentially contentious Euro 2020 play-off final if they overcome Bosnia and Slovakia respectively in their semi-finals five days earlier.

In her first major interview since taking up the post of Minister for Communities, in which sport plays a key role, Hargey revealed to the Belfast Telegraph that if the derby clash takes place she will support the Republic of Ireland.

While there would be security issues and concerns that such a fixture could become a political powderkeg, the former Mayor of Belfast says she hopes fans would see it as a sporting event and nothing else.

The previous Sinn Fein Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin first attended a Northern Ireland game at Windsor in 2011 but arrived after the anthem - God Save The Queen - was played.

Asked about the anthem issue, Hargey said: "I'm intending to go to Windsor Park to watch a game and for me it is approaching it from a position of respect. I don't sign up to a monarchy but other people do and that's fine. I will respect the games and venues I am going to."

Asked to confirm if she would stand for the anthem, the Minister said: "I will show respect when I am there. Yes."

In a wide-ranging interview, Hargey also spoke about Northern Ireland's part in a 2030 World Cup bid, the future of the Ulster Grand Prix, and stated that the previously troubled Sport NI must avoid 'dangerous distractions' and 'internal problems' and focus on developing sport, encouraging grassroots participation and supporting elite athletes.

Belfast Telegraph