An SDLP delegation met with the Irish Football Association (IFA) at Windsor Park on Thursday.
SDLP Sports Spokesperson Justin McNulty, South Belfast MP Claire Hanna and South Belfast MLA Matthew O’Toole met with representatives of the organisation to discuss the joint Ireland and Britain 2028 bid and general community and football issues.
Following the meeting Mr McNulty said it was imperative that Casement Park was built in time for the tournament and that the opportunity to bring European Championship football to the North was not missed.
Newry & Armagh MLA Mr McNulty said:
“The SDLP had a very productive meeting with the IFA at Windsor Park this week. It was extremely exciting to hear more details about the joint Euro 2028 bid and I welcome the spirit of cooperation between the UK and Irish governments to make the possibility of hosting this tournament a reality. I really feel that this is an opportunity to inspire generations to come and we will support the bid in any way we can.
“If we want to host matches featuring some of the world’s top teams in the North then we need to see Casement Park built in time for the tournament. I realise that there are a number of challenges ahead of us to make this happen, but it would be a real failure of political leadership if we are the only part of these islands not involved. This bid is an opportunity to secure a large investment into our local economy and to shine a positive spotlight on everything we have to offer here, while creating a sporting legacy for future generations to benefit from.
“During our meeting we also discussed the potential of sport as a vehicle to bring people together. I have long been an advocate for the powerful role sport can play in reconciliation on this island having seen it firsthand on numerous occasions over the years. Encouraging children and young people to take part in sport from an early age will help them forge lasting friendships and relationships with teams right across our communities. The Euros bid is an opportunity for people right across this island to come together and work towards a positive goal, showing we’re much stronger when we focus on what unites us than on what separates us.”