NORTHERN Ireland may follow in England’s footsteps if MPs in Westminster decide to get rid of the God Save the Queen anthem at national soccer events.
The long-standing British anthem is currently sung by England’s footballers, but Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins believes that there should instead be a designated English song.
The issue, which has been debated for years, will be brought before Parliament in the form of the English National Anthem Bill on January 13.
Mr Perkins said: “I have nothing against God Save the Queen but that is the national anthem of the United Kingdom.
“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.”
With the European Championships taking place this summer, a decision in support of Mr Perkins’ bill would require England to pick a new anthem.
Northern Ireland officials have conceded that they would most likely follow suit if England abandon God Save the Queen at international fixtures.
Irish FA President Jim Shaw told the Belfast Telegraph: “The national anthem debate is one of the most divisive in our history. We’ve been debating it for years. If we keep it, we annoy people and we know if it goes, there will be plenty of angry supporters.
“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.”
Scotland and Wales use the Flower of Scotland and Land of Our Fathers respectively in international football games.
Ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games England adopted Jerusalem as their anthem after a public vote, whilst Northern Irish athletes use Danny Boy.