Commonwealth Games 2022: Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Office written question – answered on 14th June 2022.

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Photo of Claire Hanna Claire Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party, Belfast South

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) on the decision not to allow Rhys McClenaghan, Eamon Montgomery and Ewan McAteer to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer because those athletes hold FIG licenses to represent the Republic of Ireland.

Photo of Conor Burns Conor Burns The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

Discussions with FIG are being led by Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland. However, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has written to the FIG President to express his concern at the decision not to allow these gymnasts to participate. He has emphasised that this appears to frustrate their birthright to identify and be accepted as British or Irish, or both, and to hold both British and Irish citizenship.

It is the Government’s firm position that, given that these gymnasts were born in Northern Ireland they should be free to compete both for Ireland and the UK as set out in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

I am also aware that colleagues at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are engaging on this issue.

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