July 17, 2023
Government must act to end unfair block on northern athletes representing Ireland – Chris Andrews TD and Ruairí Ó Murchú TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Sport, Chris Andrews TD, and Ruairí Ó Murchú TD, have called on the government to act decisively to change World Athletics 1934 Political Boundary Rule as applied to Ireland.

The rule prevents athletes from the North of Ireland from representing Ireland at European and World Athletics competitions.

Teachta Andrews said:

“I have raised with the Minister for Sport the need to change World Athletics 1934 Political Boundary Rule. It is vital that this ruling is changed to allow all Irish athletes the right to represent Ireland internationally, regardless of what part of Ireland they are born in.

“We have seen athletes from the North of Ireland represent Ireland with great pride and passion at the Olympic Games.

“It is a disgrace that these same athletes, and others like them, are then barred from representing Ireland at European and World Athletics competitions.

“While I welcome confirmation from Minister Thomas Byrne that he supports changing the political boundary rule, words are not enough. 

“We need to see the Minister working with stakeholders to bring this discriminatory rule to an end. 

“The government must work to ensure that a derogation for the island of Ireland is achieved, to ensure equality of participation for all Irish athletics.

“I call on the Minister to intervene and meet with stakeholders to bring about a resolution.”

Teachta Ó Murchú said:

“I raised with the Tánaiste the divisive impact on athletes that World Athletics’ ‘Political Boundary Rule’ is causing.

“The Tánaiste said that the government ‘will do whatever we can to progress this’.

“The ‘Boundary Rule’ discriminates against the people of Ireland and in particular athletes who wish to represent the island of Ireland at European and World Athletics.

“It blocks athletes from the North representing Ireland at these games, solely due to what county you were born in.

“It fundamentally breaches the letter and the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement with respect to equality and parity of esteem.

“The government needs to directly intervene and work to achieve a derogation for Ireland to allow all athletes in Ireland to represent Ireland regardless of what county.

“I also support the view expressed by the Minister for Sport and his predecessor that Athletics Ireland, Athletics Northern Ireland, UK Athletics, Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland should all be involved in discussions about obtaining a derogation for the island of Ireland.

“The ‘Political Boundary Rule’ is divisive for athletics in Ireland.

“And the Minister, in conjunction with other stakeholders, should begin the work of obtaining a derogation for the island of Ireland.”

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