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Taoiseach wants all-Ireland football team to play England in charity friendly

Updated: Saturday, 09 Nov 2013 17:39 | Comments

Irish players celebrate after securing World Cup qualification against Northern Ireland in 1993
Irish players celebrate after securing World Cup qualification against Northern Ireland in 1993

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny has called for an all-Ireland football team to take on England every two years to raise money for children’s hospitals in Dublin and Belfast.

Mr Kenny said the idea could be attractive to everyone.

"It would be a gesture from the sports people that would have a profound impact," he said.

Mr Kenny was in Armagh at a conference on sport boosting reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

He said the Government was building a hospital for all the children of the island of Ireland.

"We could take on the might of England entirely for charity, for the children's hospitals (of Belfast and Dublin), for the children of the island, for research and development of what can impact on their little lives," he said.

"It is just a thought, it might be something that could become a reality."

The Taoiseach was asked whether he would be involving British Prime Minister David Cameron.

He said: "The Prime Minister is a very engaging person, but this is for the sporting organisations.

"The sport is about the children of the island. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if we could have an all-island soccer team playing England, perhaps on a bi-annual basis, playing in Ireland and England, the purpose of which would be the development of research and the development of both children's hospitals on the island of Ireland."

He said it could be a unique integration of sport and services for the children of Ireland.

Speaking later in Castlebar, the Taoiseach said he feels an All-Ireland selection playing their English counterparts would capture the public imagination.

Mr Kenny said he felt we were in a "new era of evolution" where an All-Ireland team playing an English soccer team would be supported by everybody.

The Taoiseach compared his suggestion to the JP McManus golf pro-am, which attracts the world's top golfers for a fundraising drive every five years.

He suggested the fixture take place every two years and that it alternate between the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Windsor Park in Belfast and Wembley Stadium in London.

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