Northern Ireland

Howzat for a lengthy wait? Ireland cricketers to receive belated letter from Stormont minister

The communities minister was asked to congratulate the team on its success at the 2022 T20 World Cup

Paul Stirling (pictured) and Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie made 73 for the first wicket in their nine-wicket win over the West Indies at the T20 World Cup
Belfast-born cricketer Paul Stirling during Ireland's nine-wicket win over the West Indies at the 2022 T20 World Cup

Stormont’s communities minister intends to write to the Ireland cricket team almost two years after his predecessor was quizzed about making a similar gesture to mark their success.

DUP minister Gordon Lyons revealed his plans in a belated response to a written question from Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty.

DUP MLA Gordon Lyons. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA
Communities Minister Gordon Lyons. PICTURE: BRIAN LAWLESS/PA

In October 2022, in the wake of Ireland’s qualification for the group stages of the T20 World Cup in Australia, Mr McNulty asked the then communities minister Deidre Hargey if she planned to write to the team congratulating them.

The written assembly question from then SDLP representative, who has since had the party whip removed over his double-jobbing as manager of Laois GAA’s senior football team, was lodged just six days before the Sinn Féin minister’s tenure expired.

Mr McNulty’s question therefore went unanswered until last week, 19 months after being asked.

In his response, Mr Lyons notes how the question was originally asked of his predecessor but says he was “delighted when Ireland finished runner-up in its group stage of the T20 World Cup in 2022″.

However, rather than an overdue message of congratulations, the minister plans to wish the team well for its forthcoming games.

“Due to the passage of time, rather than writing to congratulate the team on their success in 2022, I will write to wish them well for the T20 World Cup due to take place in the West Indies and the United States this June and for their historic first test match to be hosted in Northern Ireland, against Zimbabwe at Stormont this coming July,” he said.

The Irish News asked Mr McNulty to comment but he declined.