IFA refuse request from Cliftonville to drop 'God Save The Queen' from playing before Cup final - but will review it going forward
The Irish Football Association (IFA) has said it is to review the playing of the British national anthem ahead of the Irish Cup final.
It comes after the association rejected a request from finalists Cliftonville for God Save the Queen to be dropped ahead of its tie with Coleraine at Windsor Park on Saturday.
The IFA said it had considered the request from the north Belfast club but decided the status quo should continue.
Former sports minister Caral ni Chuilin said: "In 2013 Cliftonville reached the Irish Cup Final and the British national anthem was not played. The IFA at the time said this decision was about fostering a 'politically neutral environment'.
"Now here we are in May 2018 and the IFA have refused a request by Cliftonville Football Club for the British national anthem not to be played at Windsor Park at the Irish Cup Final this Saturday.
"It looks like the IFA have made the decision that a politically neutral environment at Windsor Park is not for them. What does this say for the IFA’s" attitude towards Irish nationalists living in this part of Ireland?
"Following a written request from Cliftonville Football Club the Board of the Irish Football Association met tonight (May 3), and considered the playing of the National Anthem at the Irish Cup final," the statement said.
The IFA has been asked for a comment. It said it considered the request from Cliftonville on Thursday night.
"The members expressed sympathy for Cliftonville's position but decided that the current board policy, agreed in August 2013, should stand. Therefore, the National Anthem will be played before the match," it said in a statement.
"The board also committed to conducting a future stakeholder review of the issue."
Cliftonville FC said in a statement it noted the decision saying it would not comment on the matter until after the Cup Final.
The club is hoping to lift the premier knockout prize in domestic football for the first time since 1979, while Coleraine haven't won the trophy since 2003.
The Bannsiders only tasted one defeat in their 38-game league season but still finished runner-ups behind Crusaders.
Coleraine are also hoping for a better outcome than a year ago after they lost 3-0 to Linfield in the showpiece game.