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Northern Ireland may be 'duty bound' to drop God Save the Queen, says IFA chief

If England adopt a new anthem for their sports teams, Northern Ireland may also have to do so.

NORTHERN IRELAND WOULD be “duty bound” to stop using ‘God Save the Queen’ as the team’s anthem should England do so, according to the president of the Irish Football Association (IFA).

Jim Shaw, who has been head of the IFA since his election in 2010, has admitted that the debate over the national anthem has been “one of the most divisive” in the association’s history, but conceded that it would be “very difficult” to continue using it if their English counterparts switched to a new anthem.

The IFA chief acknowledged that “there will be plenty of angry supporters” if the anthem is changed, but insisted that it is not up to his association to decide what song is used.

“The national anthem debate is one of the most divisive in our history. We’ve been debating it for years,” Shaw told the Belfast Telegraph.

“If we keep it, we annoy people and we know if it goes, there will be plenty of angry supporters. But it’s not for the Irish FA to decide what the national athem of Northern Ireland is. That is for the devolved government at Stormont.

“The Scots and Welsh governments decided to change when they came into power. We didn’t. I think it would be very difficult for us to continue using ‘God Save the Queen’ if the English decide they want a new anthem. I think we would be duty bound to follow suit.”

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Jim Shaw 13/12/2010 Jim Shaw Source: Russell Pritchard/Presseye

The question over anthem choice has arisen as a politician in England, Chesterfield Labour MP Toby Perkins, brings a bill before British parliament on 13 January which requests a debate and vote on the use of ‘God Save the Queen’ as England’s national anthem in sporting events.

Perkins is calling for an England-specific anthem, in the same vein as Scotland’s ‘Flower of Scotland’ and Wales’ ‘Land of our Fathers’.

“I have nothing against ‘God Save the Queen’ but that is the national anthem of the United Kingdom,” Perkins said. ”England is a component part of the UK but it competes as a country in its own right and I think a song that celebrated England rather than Britain would be more appropriate.”

Northern Ireland will compete at Euro 2016 this summer after topping their qualifying group. Michael O’Neill’s team have been drawn in Group C along with Poland, Ukraine and world champions Germany.

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