Northern Ireland news

God Save The Queen could be ditched as anthem

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill and his team celebrating at Windsor Park in October. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Marie Louise McConville

God Save The Queen could be ditched as Northern Ireland's national anthem should a forthcoming bill be passed through Westminster.

Proposed by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, the English National Anthem Bill is set to go before parliament on January 13.

The MP wants an anthem specifically for the England national team and if the bill is passed, it will pave the way for a public consultation on the choosing of a new song.

Currently, God Save The Queen is used during some sporting events however Mr Perkins wants a specific song just for England.

"I have nothing against God Save the Queen but that is the national anthem of the United Kingdom," he said.

"England is a component part of the UK but it competes as a country in its own right and I think a song that celebrated England rather than Britain would be more appropriate".

However, if the bill is passed, it could have repercussions in Northern Ireland as officials have revealed it may change their stance on using God Save The Queen at future internationals.

The debate on whether to keep God Save The Queen is likely to cause controversy and comes just months before the European Championships in France this summer.

Irish FA President Jim Shaw said the debate around the national anthem has been "one of the most divisive in our history".

"We've been debating it for years," he said.

"If we keep it, we annoy people and we know if it goes, there will be plenty of angry supporters."

He added: "But it's not for the Irish FA to decide what the national anthem of Northern Ireland is. That is for the devolved government at Stormont. The Scots and Welsh governments decided to change when they came into power. We didn't.

"I think it would be very difficult for us to continue using God Save the Queen if the English decide they want a new anthem. I think we would be duty bound to follow suit."

Currently, neither Scotland or Wales use God Save the Queen at international games, having replaced it with Flower of Scotland and Land of Our Fathers.

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