Gerry Armstrong suggests replacing ‘God Save the Queen’ to bring more nationalists to football
Compromise could lead to greater cross community participation
More nationalists might play for Northern Ireland if the Irish Football Association (IFA) could find an alternative national anthem to replace God Save the Queen.
That's the opinion of Northern Ireland's elite player Gerry Armstrong, who has been capped 63 times. Armstrong says the anthem issue has cropped up as a sticking point in several conversations he's had with prospective players recently.
'It is an issue which is sensitive to a lot of nationalist lads,' he told BBC sports this week.
Although several Northern Ireland-born players have lined up for the Republic, Armstrong's role is to try and persuade Northern Ireland-born players from the nationalist community not to switch their international allegiance to the Republic.
Thousands walk for peace in Omagh, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Minister demands IRA apology from Republic
Patricia Harty: A new dream for Northern Ireland
'It might have been a reason, maybe, why some of them didn't want to play for Northern Ireland,' Armstrong added. 'I do think it's something that needs to be talked about. Where it goes, I just don't know.'
In an effort to move the situation forward Armstrong told the press he has had informal discussions with Snow Patrol songwriter and Northern Ireland fan Gary Lightbody about the anthem issue.
'I know Gary Lightbody and it was a possible way out in terms of what we could do. We looked at the Scottish solutions and the Welsh situations where they have their own national anthems.'
Armstrong hails from a nationalist background and says playing of God Save the Queen was never an issue for him during his own Northern Ireland career, but he has observed it is for many other players.
'Or for a lot of other players and I don't see why it should be a major issue now. But it is an issue that has been raised by some - not by all.'
- Gay wedding cakes latest target of anti-gay...
- Racist incidents in Ireland up by 85 percent...
- A Magdalene Laundry US adoptee who holds...
- An open letter in strong defence of capitalism.
- Irish radio presenter suspended after anti-Isra
- Nelson Mandela was against IRA decommissioning.
- Families as well as Catholic Church and governm
- Baby dies in horror birth at Belfast hospital...
- Gay teacher fired from Catholic school after...
- Sarah Palin is saving Christmas