"An unwavering and enthusiastic supporter" - Ireland 2023 chairman remembers Martin McGuinness

The former Sinn Fein leader was a strong backer of the World Cup bid

"An unwavering and enthusiastic supporter" - Ireland 2023 chairman remembers Martin McGuinness

Pictured (L-R) Former Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, Brian O'Driscoll, Dick Spring, Chairman Oversight Board for Ireland's 2023 Rugby World Cup Bid and Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness in Belfast. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ireland 2023 Chairman Dick Spring has paid tribute to Martin McGuinness, after the Sinn Fein leader died overnight in Derry.

The former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister was a vocal supporter of Ireland's 2023 World Cup bid. If successful, the tournament would host games in three stadia in Belfast and Derry.

McGuinness was involved in the preparatory stages of the bid. Along with the-then First Minister Arlene Foster, the duo welcomed the bid team, including Mr. Spring to Belfast on many occasions.

Dick Spring, Brian O'Driscoll, Martin McGuinness and Philip Browne, CEO of the IRFU. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"Martin was an unwavering and enthusiastic supporter of Ireland's on-going bid to bring the Rugby World Cup to Ireland in 2023", Spring said in a statement, on Tuesday morning. "His contribution was significant, particularly in assisting us to launch our bid, and is greatly appreciated."

"Martin's work in relation to peace and reconciliation has ensured we live in a progressive, peaceful and universally admired society, where we respect our differences and work together for all. On behalf of those involved with the 2023 project I would like to offer our sincere condolences to Martin's Family".

The news of McGuinness' death comes on the same day that World Rugby officials arrive in Dublin with a technical review group to meet Ireland 2023 officials ahead of the host decision, later this year.

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