Senator Frank Feighan has called for a wider debate on the merits of Ireland competing in the Commonwealth Games.
Commenting on the issue Frank Feighan said “When you look at athletes such as Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes successfully representing Ireland at the Olympics and Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games, I believe it is more than timely that we call for a wider debate to explore the merits of All-Ireland teams competing at the Commonwealth Games.
“The Good Friday Agreement has allowed people living in Northern Ireland the choice of either Irish or British citizenship and I am of the strong opinion that we should look at sport here on an All-Ireland basis as much as we can.
“As we heard at Wednesday’s meeting of the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Sporting bodies in the Republic work closely with their Northern counterparts and there was a clear acknowledgement yesterday that the Commonwealth Games is a great competition for developing athletes.
“We also heard at the committee meeting that the Good Friday Agreement has been extremely beneficial for sport on the whole island and that the Sport Ireland body here will fund a lot of the athletes who will compete in the next Commonwealth Games.
“So, I feel we should now look at the possibility of Ireland entering teams – why not, for example, have an Irish hockey team or an Ireland rugby sevens competing at the Commonwealth Games?
“As part of this debate, I believe we should explore the usage of our facilities here for the Commonwealth Games or even the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021. We have some fantastic facilities now available, whether it is the National Sports Campus in Dublin or the international rowing facility at Lough Rynn in County Leitrim.
“In a time where Brexit has created so much uncertainty, it seems to me that the relationships between sporting organisations in the Republic and Northern Ireland have never been stronger and we should look at ways of exploring how we can develop those further.”