DUP MLA Nelson McCausland has criticised the Football Association of Ireland's (FAI) plans for the Republic of Ireland to wear a 1916 commemorative jersey in two friendlies this Easter.
Martin O’Neill’s side play Switzerland on Good Friday and then host Slovakia the Tuesday after Easter Monday, with both games taking place at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a landmark event in the battle for Irish independence, a specially embroidered reference to 1916 will appear under Ireland’s usual crest.
The jersey will not be made available for the public to buy, but DUP representative McCausland has taken issue with the ‘republican narrative’ he believes goes with the tribute.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: “The uncritical endorsement of the Easter rebellion by the government and others in the Irish Republic, including the FAI, reinforces a republican narrative which has, down through the years, drawn young people into the IRA and other republican terrorist organisations."
The 1916 Rising is set to be celebrated by a series of events across Dublin and Ireland throughout the Easter period, but McCausland believes it is unethical to glorify the occasion due to the decades of violence that ensued in Northern Ireland.
"This is the football team of another country, and in that regard it is a matter for that country,” he added.
"However, the people of Northern Ireland have suffered and continue to suffer from the violence of those who see themselves as the successors of the 1916 rebels."