Sunday, March 29, 2015

Churches in Ireland Protest the playing of sports on Sunday

Churches in Ireland Protest the playing of sports on Sunday

UTV News | March 29, 2014

Protestors have staged a demonstration in south Belfast over Northern Ireland’s first home international to be held on a Sunday.

A group of people held placards and sang hymns outside Tyndale Free Presbyterian Church close to Windsor Park.

Michael O’Neill’s side play Finland in a Euro 2016 qualifier, but those opposed to the scheduling of the fixture described it as "another watershed moment in modern Ulster's increasing rejection of the Lord's Day”.

The side has played oversees before on a Sunday, most recently against Hungary, but the Irish Football Association has been careful in the past to avoid a game taking place on a Sunday on home turf.

However, it became an inevitability after UEFA introduced its 'week of football' blueprint for the current qualifying campaign and the association had to agree to the competition’s rules prior to any fixtures being decided.

Reverend Raymond Robinson, whose congregation held placards and handed out leaflets on Donegall Avenue, said: "Our opposition is to the breaking of observance of the Lord's day.

"We believe in the Sabbath being kept holy. It seems more and more that the football agenda is being driven by the television companies and not what God says, or what public opinion is.

"A delegation met the IFA and expressed our concerns. We found it interesting that the likes of Gibraltar and Spain had special circumstances (within the UEFA schedule) but the IFA couldn't have the same for observing Sunday as the Lord's day.

"We were also surprised at the IFA not contacting local churches about the fixture, which we felt would have been common courtesy.

"They did say they would seek to accommodate us and help out but if we had never mentioned it that would never have happened."

The Orange Order also expressed its disappointment, a spokesman added: “The playing of any kind of sport (not only football) on the Lord's Day is a breach of the fourth commandment.”