Best: we need an all Ireland soccer team

Thanks to Dave Lee for the heads up on this one. (A very rough looking) George Best has called for the football associations north adn south to take a deep breath and join forces to put together a world class soccer team. Meanwhile, Lawrie Sanchez prepares for the England match on Saturday.

The irrepressible Iain Dowie reckons Northern Ireland has a chance:

Latvia’s miraculous qualification for Euro 2004 is a model for the likes of Northern Ireland. ‘Absolutely,’ enthuses Dowie. ‘There’s no question we can get to the finals of a tournament, although it’s a difficult task and I do think Lawrie Sanchez needs a better group of players. This [qualifying] group is very good for us because of the massive interest it is generating in Northern Ireland. I never got the chance to play against England and people tell me they are going to turn part of Manchester into a corner of Belfast on the weekend. Hopefully the buzz can re-establish some passion and enthusiasm and boost the finances to help improve future generations.’

So would he consider taking the Northern Ireland post one day? ‘It is a very difficult job, but what would be attractive is the idea of being able to shape the football set-up from top to bottom, to create the environment to be able to make a difference,’ he says.

For a fan’s eye view, check out Our Wee Country.

  • Ringo

    Maca

    In fairness, it is a bit like Willowfield’s objection to the use/misuse of Ireland. Technically speaking you are right, but why get hung up on a technicality when there are no obvious and common alternatives?

    The simple fact is that there are a number of significantly sized islands in close proximity to each other off the coast of western Europe, most of which are british and the largest of which is Britain.

    I would never use the term British Isles myself, instead I just studiously avoid doing so, but until there is a term in common usage that is a concise and more politically correct way of describing ‘these islands’ (clumsy, obviously avoiding something) similar to Iberia and Scandinavia then I have no problem with anyone who uses the term British Isles in a non-provocative way.

    A good example of an appropriate context is the two recent BBC natural history series (Titmarch’s and the new one) and as usual they are excellent. They both have the words ‘British Isles’ in the title, and when dealing with the natural forces that created ‘the north atlantic isles’ (not to bad, too vague though) I look forward to seeing bits that include the Republic rather than hope that they avoid including them for PC reasons (licence fee reasons are understandable). There was on bit on the Burren but nothing else that I remember from the Republic. There is a regular slot from NI.

    Basically, when used in a geographic sense, I see no problem with it. If used in a political sense it is a completely different thing.

  • beano

    “demanding respect for the Irish nation and parity of esteem does not make one anti-British. Quite the opposite, in fact. Equality breeds respect.”
    By your argument then, you accept that Northern Ireland should have its own football team, as we demand respect for the Northern Irish “nation” (in footballing terms, it is a nation, as much as England/Wales/Scotland are).

    And you also agree, there should be an “Ireland and Northern Ireland” rugby union team in the 6 (7?) nations?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi George,

    Cheers for getting back. Seems to me it’s a bit of a grey area. If there’s no official decision to change how come the name changed “officially”?

    Personally, I’ve no problems with ‘British Lions’, ‘Lions’ or ‘British and Irish Lions’. I must emphasize when I say British/Irish above I mean in a geographical context. That’s why I do not oppose the use of Ireland for the Irish Rugby team – it’s geographical. But, what I do object to is the use of the Tricolour and Soldier’s Song which are both political belonging to only one part of Ireland. In the same way the use of “British”, even in a geographical sense, pisses off Nationalists, the Tricolour/Soldier’s song pisses off Irish Unionists…

    Would you agree George?

    BTW, do you know whether the Lions use GSTQ as an anthem? As obviously with my above argument I would not want this rammed down Nationalists throats either…

  • beano

    From Wikipedia: British and Irish Lions:
    “The British and Irish Lions (formerly British Isles and then the British Lions) are a Rugby Union side comprising the pick of the best players from the four Home nation unions, i.e. England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. As such, they do not have a national anthem.”

  • maca

    IJP
    “and know no one who is really ‘offended’ by the term”

    Would you take offence if people said you were not British and you were told to just accept that? Same situation here.

    Ringo
    I basically agree with a lot of what you say (and generally I don’t get too hung up on such things, they are minor irrelevant issues after all) except that I think the phrase can not be simply geographic but is always political.

  • beano

    Maca: “I think the phrase can not be simply geographic but is always political.”

    I’ve never viewed the British Isles as political, in the same way I don’t view Great Britain as a political entity. It’s something you learn in geography, not politics.

  • maca

    It’s a political term Beano.
    (i’m not saying the British Isles is a political group just the term)

  • Ringo

    Maca –

    the one thing that makes it essentially a geographic term rather than political is that it refers to the physical ‘isles’ themselves rather than the people or the political entities on them.

  • maca

    Ringo
    “the one thing that makes it essentially a geographic term rather than political is that it refers to the physical ‘isles’ themselves rather than the people or the political entities on them.”

    I know that but there we have the problem. You are British because you are from the British Isles. Therein lies the problem, the ‘people’ are being called British.

  • IJP

    Maca

    Would you take offence if people said you were not British and you were told to just accept that? Same situation here.

    No one is telling you you’re British. It’s simply a geographical term. I’m not ‘Celtic’ but have no objection to the term ‘Celtic Fringe’ – it’s a convenient label for something for which there is no other convenient label – just like Ringo says.

    But by the way, I would have no objection to people saying I’m not British. The implication happens all the time. But I know what I am and I’m not petty enough to quibble over it!

    My whole point about Ptolemy was he was using a geographical term, not a political one. The geographical pre-dates and post-dates the political. It is no more or less political than saying ‘Ireland’ to mean the whole island.

    Do you agree, therefore, that according to your own logic it is wrong to say ‘Ireland’ to mean the whole island?

  • maca

    IJP
    “No one is telling you you’re British”

    That’s the whole problem Ian, they ARE.

    “I’m not petty enough to quibble over it!”

    Thanks.

  • beano

    It’s no more political than the “island of ireland”, which is used because there is no reasonable alternative, or should we now also be talking about the “island of Ireland and Northern Ireland”?

  • maca

    “It’s no more political than the “island of ireland””

    Which itself is political Beano. There has been plenty of unionists on here who were appalled at the suggestion that they might be Irish because they are from the “island of Ireland”. Everything is political in these god forsaken islands 😉

  • Ringo

    I know that but there we have the problem. You are British because you are from the British Isles. Therein lies the problem, the ‘people’ are being called British.

    Fair enough.

    The only time I ever let anyone away with thinking I was English (as they automatically do when you’re abroad) was when missed the last train home (about 40 miles away) in Oviedo in Northern Spain. In order to pass the night we got hammered and slept on benches outside the train station.

    I boarded the early morning train with all these well heeled commuters hungover, stinking of drink, manky dirty and with a half chewed Highland Toffee Bar unknowingly stuck to the arse of my pants (don’t ask). The very helpful Spanish station staff who kindly put our dishevelled asses on the train had continually referred to us as ‘ingles’, and rather than give the world the preposterous idea that this was standard behaviour for my countrymen I put up with the terrible insult and kept my nationality to myself. Quite possibly the most patriotic act I have ever committed.

  • maca

    Anyway lads, this is a bullshit discussion if ever there was one. Whatever your persuasion happy easter, hauskaa pääsiäistä, glad Påsk, Cáisc shona dhaoibh, a’ Chàisg sona, Caisht sonney dhyt(isn’t Manx gas?).

  • maca

    Ringo
    Taking one for the team, I think you deserve a medal. 😉

  • Lafcadio

    maca – “It’s a political term Beano” – on the contrary, I would suggest that in 99% of the instances of its use, it’s a mere geographic tag. In the example in my earlier post, when the Australian rugby coach referred to a potential Lions player as one of the best in his position in “the British Isles”, what political point was he trying to make?

  • George

    Congal,
    I don’t believe there are Irish unionists anymore – they ceased to exist with partition.

    Unionism has jettisoned Irishness a long time ago and now is just British. Nowhere do the DUP or UUP (90%+ of unionism) mention anything about Irishness being part of unionism. I don’t know why unionists still try to cling on to this bit of Irishness when everything they do and say is done in an effort to keep them as far away as possible from the Irish. Another one of the contradictions in that ideology.

    As for the tricolour and Soldier’s Song, they are only played before games in the Irish Republic and righfully so. There was no tricolour flown at the World Cup and no Soldier’s Song sung.

    Personally, if you want them removed altogether then I recommend Beano’s suggestion and go form a Northern Ireland rugby team. Then the Northern Irleand rugby players can sing GSTQ to their hearts’ content and wave their union flags while we can consign Ireland’s Call to the dustbin where it belongs.

    I want no part of an all-Ireland team that can only exist if we deny our flag and anthem. I would fully understand if Northern Ireland rugby players felt the same and left because they can’t see their union flag. We’d get over the loss eventually.

    Beano,
    I couldn’t care less about the Northern Ireland football team. I have changed my view on this and now believe the Irish citizens of Northern Ireland should declare for the Irish Republic and let those into Northern Ireland and being British enjoy their team.

  • beano

    I do not necessarily advocate a NI rugby team as the way forward, but one of my preferred two options. The other being a “Ireland and Northern Ireland” team, which flys both flags (RoI and NI, not the Union Flag) and plays both anthems (or neither).

    I also don’t wish to isolate northern Irish (as distinct from Northern Irish) people from supporting NI. I think, as I’ve said before, Unionists should embrace the Irish elements of their Northern Irish/British identity, rather than deny them as they have done for so long.

    Eventually I would like to see more northern Irish fans supporting NI or both teams, but considering I will not support the republic, I would not expect them to do so as a given.

  • maca

    “I will not support the republic”

    Can I ask why?

  • George

    Beano,
    the fact that Northern Ireland supporters seem to dislike the Irish Republic’s team so much is one of the reasons why I now believe the hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens north of the border should completely forget about the Northern Ireland football team and come support/play for a team where they and their passports are at home.

    The best solution is two teams, one British one Irish. If you’re British living on this island, support Northern ireland. If you are Irish, support the Republic of Ireland.

    Happy days all around.

  • Lafcadio

    George – “…tricolour and Soldier’s Song, they are only played before games in the Irish Republic and righfully so..” this would be rightful if, as the logical corollary, GSTQ was played in NI for representative matches, and the Union Flag flown – this does not happen. As it happens, I would not propose that this should take place, rather that in both jurisdictions just Ireland’s Call be played, and the flag or St Patrick, or 4 provinces flag be flown.

    “Personally… we can consign Ireland’s Call to the dustbin… we deny our flag… We’d get over the loss” your “personal” perspective seemed to broaden somewhat in the space of a couple of sentences! What “we” do you speak on behalf of, pray tell?

    For someone who’s banged on at length of “parity of esteem” on this very thread in relation to the “British Isles”, I’m surprised to see that it doesn’t stretch to all of the supporters of the Irish rugby team.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi George,

    “I don’t believe there are Irish unionists anymore”

    Surely that’s for Unionists to decide. I for one am Unionist and Irish. But, my conception of Irishness embraces more than just Gaelic…

    “As for the tricolour and Soldier’s Song, they are only played before games in the Irish Republic and righfully so”

    Let me see if I’m understanding you correctly George…

    You think that using the political anthem/flag of the RoI is acceptable for the geographical entity that is Ireland. However, you think that the use of British Lions when describing a geographical entity is an affront to Irish nationalists as the Geographical entity that is the British Isles includes the political entity that is the RoI? Do you seriously not see how they are both sides of the same argument?

    (British Isles being a widespread a modern expression as demonstrated earlier with the number of Google hits – knowing that the internet has onlt really taken off in the last decade)

  • beano

    “Northern Ireland supporters seem to dislike the Irish Republic’s team so much is one of the reasons why I now believe the hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens north of the border should completely forget about the Northern Ireland football team”
    I don’t think that that alone is a good reason. Many countries have a strong rivalry (England/Scotland?) and it’s part of the passion of football.

    maca: I will not support the republic for the same reason, I would imagine, most nationalists or Irish people would not support England. It’s not my team.

    In an effort to pre-empt the “If NI fans don’t support the Republic, why should we support NI then?” stuff.. I’m not suggesting people from the south should support NI, although I welcome them if they choose to do so. My hope is that some day northern Irish will support NI, and if they choose to also support the Republic, to whatever degree, fair play to them. In such times, NI supporters would be supporting the Republic.

    I hope that makes sense :\

  • maca

    Beano
    “I will not support the republic for the same reason, I would imagine, most nationalists or Irish people would not support England. It’s not my team”

    Fair enough.

  • George

    Lafcadio,
    I would be quite happy if there were two anthems played and two flags flown at Lansdowne Road before games.

    First let all the people of Northern Ireland find an agreed flag and anthem and we can use them along with the tricolour and the Soldier’s Song. That’s what parity of esteem is about.

    If however, it is a case of British being the only culture represented by the NI flag and anthem, then I say take a hike and form your own Northern Ireland rugby team and the Republic will gladly take those players and supporters culturally excluded by the NI anthem and flag.

    Congal,
    “Surely that’s for Unionists to decide. I for one am Unionist and Irish.”

    It is and they have. There are no Irish unionists although there are lots who pay lip service to the idea for reasons best known to themselves.

    Tell me where any unionist party mentions anything about being Irish and unionist. They don’t because they aren’t. Tell me where they mention policies about developing Irish unionism. To be unionist in 2005 is to be British. Unionism’s choice, not mine.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi George,

    “First let all the people of Northern Ireland find an agreed flag and anthem and we can use them along with the tricolour and the Soldier’s Song.”

    Surely, most of them are already catered for with the tricolour and the Soldier’s Song? The problem Unionists aren’t. That’s why the current situation does not represent parity of esteem.

    “take a hike and form your own Northern Ireland rugby team”

    Should the Brits take a similarly narrow minded approach to the Irish within the Lions?

    “There are no Irish unionists…”

    Again, I’m telling you I’m Irish and Unionist, so that’s not correct. If incorrect, which one am I not?

  • beano

    “To be unionist in 2005 is to be British. Unionism’s choice, not mine”
    George if you’re suggesting that unionists are exclusively British then that’s quite short sighted. Ask any unionist (ordinary people) and they will answer they are Ulstermen/Ulsterwomen, Northern Irish, British or all of the above. (Don’t forget the, admittedly very tiny number of, Irish Unionists in the Republic.)

    “First let all the people of Northern Ireland find an agreed flag and anthem and we can use them along with the tricolour and the Soldier’s Song. That’s what parity of esteem is about.”
    I think your argument is flawed in that many in NI will never agree to ANY NI flag because it recognises the existence of some fictitious state in the geographical area of the Occupied 6 Counties. I would argue that with the NI flag being flown with the tricolour, everyone would already be represented. Those in NI who don’t identify with the NI flag/anthem usually do so with the RoI flag and anthem.

  • Lafcadio

    George – I’m not going to pursue this much longer, as I imagine the egregious inconsistency of your position is fairly clear to all by this stage.. But out of interest, can I refer you to the question I asked earlier: “What “we” do you speak on behalf of, pray tell?”

  • Lafcadio

    the talk of ROI / NI support etc has reminded me – in ’99-2000 I lived in Paris, for much of the year in the Collège des Irlandais, with a bunch of other Irish people, mostly other students etc, from north and south.

    At one stage, NI played France in a friendly at Windsor. So I piled into the TV room with a mate from Dublin to watch it. The only other person from the north in the college at the time was a catholic girl with whom I had been on pretty good terms – she came into the tv room as the match kicked off, and belatedly realised we were watching NI rather than the republic.. She got up shortly after and left the room, leaving my friend and I a bit perplexed, wondering whether we were just imagining the frostiness in the air. Another friend told us later that she went to the kitchen, saying that we were watching NI, with a pained expression on her face, as if she had caught us watching some unspeakable pornography.. (which to be fair, on a different night, she may have.. only joking..)

    At some stage during the second half, she popped in for a couple of minutes, only to ask pointedly whether we knew the score in the republic match..

    During the first half a bunch of guys on their way out stuck their head in the door, and asked who was playing – on hearing it was NI they shouted “Come on France, hammer the ba*tards” and stuff like that – later I realised they weren’t trying to rile me, as I assumed at the time, they simply assumed that nobody there could bring themselves to support NI! It seemed to me that most of the people there had the same reflexive dislike of the NI team that they did of Rangers or something.

    That match cracked me up though, all the way through, the French commentators were calling Iain Dowie “James Quinn” – and then when James Quinn came on for Dowie, they said “and Quinn is going off to be replaced by… euh…” there were a few moments of silence, punctuated by shuffling paper, before they had it all straightened out – they obviously didn’t have the first idea who Dowie was!! For shame!!

    All that said, of my friends from home, the biggest NI fan is a catholic – season ticket holder at Windsor, he’s going to Poland for the away match shortly..

  • George

    Congal,
    are you saying that nearly half of Northern Ireland’s population is represented by the Soldier’s Song and the tricolour? That’s not very Irish unionist of you and would constitute a serious abdication of responsibility for your state.

    Surely as an Irish unionist you should be in the vanguard of those looking for an anthem and flag which represents the whole of Northern Ireland rather than merely one that represents British unionists?

    Or are you saying that Northern Ireland can’t deliver parity of esteem and if its Irish population want cultural representation they should look south?

    Beano
    “I would argue that with the NI flag being flown with the tricolour, everyone would already be represented.”

    I understand the problems of a common flag and anthem but by not moving on this issue you are agreeing that Northern Ireland as a state and a football team only represents the British community.

    What you are also saying is that you don’t want Northern Ireland represented at Lansdowne Road but the British community.

    Lafcadio,
    I know there are contradictions but there are contradictions on all sides here. It doesn’t mean we can’t get somewhere on this.

    As for my use of “we”, it was the royal usage and as such probably should have been avoided.

    I just want a situation where I can go and support “my” team, sing my anthem, wave my flag and “we” can all cheer together.

    As I said, I would happily take an agreed Northern Ireland flag and anthem but not one that represents just one part of the Northern Ireland.

    Either Northern Ireland exists as a country where both sides are treated equally or it doesn’t. People here seem to be implying it can’t deliver parity of cultural esteem.

    To offer a mutually acceptable flag and anthem is a step too far apparently. What chance power-sharing?

    Anyone,
    I am still waiting for proof of the existence of this Irish unionist ideology. Could someone please let me know which party has mentioned them never mind represent them and what issues this party has put forward to differentiate them from your common or garden British unionist?

  • beano

    I’m getting tired of this, didn’t you read the post entitled “Just ******* google it?”
    Voila, Irish Unionism.

    I don’t have it to hand but in David Trimble’s 100th UU Conference speech I think he mentioned Irish as a description of unionists at least once.

    What I’m saying is that there are some narrow minded people who will never accept that NI exists, preferring to stick their head in the proverbial, presumably Irish, sand. Therefore a flag is a non-starter, at least for now. And it is a truth that many nationalists currently feel they identify with the flag of the republic, it’s a sad reflection on NI but it’s true – at least for now. The point is they would all be represented one way or another instead of refusing to acknowledge a million odd people.

    “What you are also saying is that you don’t want Northern Ireland represented at Lansdowne Road but the British community.” Don’t tell me what I’m saying, if I wanted the British community represented I’d have suggested the Union Flag. I want the Northern Irish people to be represented in a team that is happy to accept their players (ok not too many right now) and supporters, but doesn’t want to acknowledge them.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi George,

    We’re talking about all Ireland teams here. Not just NI or just RoI. If an all Ireland team flew just the Tricolour about 1 million people would not feel represented. If the Union Flag flew 4 million would be unrepresented.

    If both were flown, how many would be unrepresented?

    For the 3rd time, I’m Unionist and Irish. The ideology is quite simple the reunification of Ireland, which I’d imagine you’d want, within the UK.

    After the EU breaks up and the RoI are “themselves alone” I would hope that the citizens of the RoI eventually realise that they are very much of the British family and vote to rejoin the UK. It won’t happen soon, but one day who knows…

  • beano

    “After the EU breaks up”

    Good luck with that. For the first time in their lives it looks like the French are reluctant to admit defeat on this one 😉

  • maca

    “I would hope that the citizens of the RoI eventually realise that they are very much of the British family”

    Not gonna happen CC. (not true anyway)

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Beano/Maca,

    All political entities break up.

    “Not gonna happen CC”.

    I can but hope. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but I would hope one day it will…

  • George

    beano,
    these Irish unionists you linked to are mostly from the Irish Republic. There don’t seem to be any north of the border. Trimble mentioned Irish Unionists because the party was called the Irish Unionist Party before partition. This is why I said Irish unionism died with partition and was replaced by British unionism. .

    I fully accept what you say about flags and anthems but why should the Irish rugby team perpetuate the problem of Northern Ireland not being able to agree on an anthem for all by accepting what is for intents and purposes a British unionist anthem and flag.

    Either Northern Ireland encompasses 1.7 million people or it doesn’t.

    This is why I say forget the idea of a united Ireland team until there is an agreed anthem and flag north of the border.

    In the meantime, Northern nationalists should just support and declare for the Republic of Ireland and let the British community support Northern Ireland.

    Of course, the logical conclusion of accepting that official Northern Ireland symbols are for British unionists and official Irish Republic symbols are for the nationals is re-partition. That’s probably what, deep down, a lot of unionists would like. Closure.

    Congal,
    that policy would classify you as an Irish unionist in my view but I don’t know any DUP or UUP policy that is for you. In fact, I know of no northern party that expounds such a view. The Reform Movement south of the border (elected representatives zero) might move that far on a particularly wild day. As I said, Irish unionism died with partition.

    As a matter of interest, what’s more important to you, the said full union of Ireland and the Irish people with Britain or maintaining the current rump union with Britain and the British people regardless of the cost to relations between the people of Ireland?

  • beano

    “maintaining the current rump union with Britain and the British people regardless of the cost to relations between the people of Ireland?”

    Something of a loaded statement there.

    “In the meantime, Northern nationalists should just support and declare for the Republic of Ireland and let the British community support Northern Ireland.”

    You seem to keep insisting that all northern catholics support the RoI team. There are a significant minority who can see their way to supporting the NI team, either instead of or in addition to the Republic’s side. This even includes the odd celtic supporter. Who are you and I to tell them who to support?

    In an ideal world we would have to work on the anthem, quite a few NI fans are unhappy with that, we just don’t have anything better.

  • Ringo

    George –

    This is why I say forget the idea of a united Ireland team until there is an agreed anthem and flag north of the border.

    but then if there is an all-Ireland team won’t we have to agree on a whole new anthem and flag again, to take into account the people in the Republic?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi George,

    Nationalists sought independence despite the damage to relations with the other 56 million who live in these isles. Not only that, but the RoI paid a heavy price economically. 50 years of economic misery and 500,000 leaving during the 50s. Imagine how much more prosperous the RoI would be if it had remained within the UK. Unknowable, I know, but I would guess much better…

  • George

    Beano,
    I am saying that if Northern Ireland isn’t willing/able to afford Northern nationalists cultural parity of esteem by offering a new acceptable flag and anthem, then I would like to think you’d be happy the Irish Republic is there to fill the gap.

    Just as I don’t care if a British unionist supports NI, sings GSTQ and waves union and NI flags, British unionists shouldn’t care about northern nationalists supporting the Irish Republic.

    In fact, I’m beginning to think they should encourage it. I say this because I get the feeling most Northern Ireland fans don’t want to lose these symbols of Britishness and are quite happy to be 111th in the world as long as they are 100% British. Fair enough but take it the whole way and respectfully wash your hands of those who don’t consider themselves British. No mention of players being poached etc. etc.

    Hell, if these Irish unionists really exist you might get a few guys from south of the border declaring for Northern Ireland in a couple of years.

    Ringo,
    no, then if we wanted a united team we would take on Beano’s suggestion of two agreed anthems and two agreed flags and ditch Ireland’s call. This would also work for rugby. Of course this is all predicated on the notion of everyone accepting partition.

    Congal,
    we’ll have a tough if not impossible time agreeing here. I look upon the Act of Union as the formal British annexation of Ireland so winning independence was liberation from occupation by a foreign power.

    What price freedom? The people of the Irish Republic paid the price necessary for winning freedom and I for one think it was worth it.

    Considering I’ve never in my life met a person from the Irish Republic who thought any kind of formal union with Britain was a good idea I believe it is safe to say nearly all 4 million agree with me.

    Nearly 100% customer satisfaction. Not bad at all.

    Well I’m out of here.

    Cáisc faoi mhaoise dhaoibh -Happy Easter to you all.

  • maca

    CC
    “I can but hope. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but I would hope one day it will.”

    And by that time there will be on Ireland or UK anyway. As you said all political entities break up 😉

    “Imagine how much more prosperous the RoI would be if it had remained within the UK.”

    Like NI perhaps?

    George
    “Cáisc faoi mhaoise dhaoibh”
    GRMA, have a good one!

  • IJP

    So after all that we’re all agreed: change the anthem and the flag, and all Northerners will flock to the new stadium to support NI. All three things have been advocated at various times by the Alliance Party, just to sneak in a party political there.

    Next subject…

  • beano

    “I am saying that if Northern Ireland isn’t willing/able to afford Northern nationalists cultural parity of esteem by offering a new acceptable flag and anthem, then I would like to think you’d be happy the Irish Republic is there to fill the gap.”

    But the flags issue isn’t about parity of esteem. There are ongoing debates about a potential replacement for the anthem and we’re open to suggestions.

    “Just as I don’t care if a British unionist supports NI, sings GSTQ and waves union and NI flags, British unionists shouldn’t care about northern nationalists supporting the Irish Republic.”

    As I’ve said before, that’s their decision.

    “In fact, I’m beginning to think they should encourage it. I say this because I get the feeling most Northern Ireland fans don’t want to lose these symbols of Britishness and are quite happy to be 111th in the world as long as they are 100% British.”
    It’s not about symbols of Britishness, its about Northern Irishness, which we recognise as a distinct identity, one which I hope can be shared, as you suggest, with a shared flag and anthem for football.

    The anthem debate has gone on for a long time, and I intend to outline the case for a new flag shortly. The flag I propose, as an example, is this one, the cross of St Patrick ‘defaced’, I believe is the term, with the red hand in a 6 pointed star. I would also propose the same flag with the crown included for use on state occasions where members of the Royal Family and/or British government (not parliament) are present.

    Rugby is different precisely because it is organised on an island basis and not a state basis. There should therefore be flags shown that both identities of fans can be happy with – either a neutral flag or none, not the flag of one state and identity at the expense of the other.

    I don’t think we’re ever going to agree on this though..

  • beano

    Note above, I suggest the new flag not just for football, but also for council buildings, stormont and generally anywhere NI is to be represented.

  • maca

    Can I make a suggestion for your flag Beano. Why not have a green cross instead of a red one, better to represent the nationalist half? If I was from the North I wouldn’t see anything in that flag which represents me.

  • IJP

    Just as I don’t care if a British unionist supports NI, sings GSTQ and waves union and NI flags, British unionists shouldn’t care about northern nationalists supporting the Irish Republic.”

    But actually they should – this is the very point! The very idea that we shouldn’t care about each other is basically the very crux of NI’s problem. We all share this territory, we should all care about making its institutions as inclusive and representative as possible. We can’t expect real peace and stability if we just carve it up and allow people to live on in mutual distrust and loathing!

    And caring about each other is in all our interests. There’s not much point in being in the Union if nearly half the population isn’t treated with the respect it deserves and therefore seeks to destabilize. Much like there isn’t much point in an all-Ireland state if the reverse is true.

    Northern Nationalists’ allegiance is to the concept of an all-Ireland State, not to the contemporary Republic in whose formation and development they have played little or no part. There is no reason whatsoever that the NI team cannot represent people of that allegiance and people whose allegiance is to the UK (split up for soccer purposes anyway) at the same time.

  • beano

    Maca, there really isn’t anything to represent nationalism OR unionism. The cross of St Patrick has been around for 300 years, why suddenly change it to green?

    My aim was to keep these divisions out of the flag. I’ll quote from the proposal I’m writing:

    “Here we retain the centre piece of the current Northern Ireland flag, the red hand on the 6 pointed star. The red hand has been a symbol of Ulster (the province from which Northern Ireland was formed) for centuries. The 6 pointed star mirrors the 6 counties of Northern Ireland: Fermanagh, Antrim, Tyrone, Londonderry (or Derry, if you prefer), Armagh and Down.

    The cross of St George has been replaced with the modern-day cross of St Patrick, in other words the red perpendicular cross is replaced with a red saltire. Saint Patrick is a man, and a symbol, both communities can identify with. He is the patron saint of the whole island, who came here at a time before any notion of any Irish state, Protestants or Catholics, nationalists or unionists ever existed on the island.”

    In a way, you could argue the flag is more Irish than British, a fact which worries me in trying to sell it to unionists. The cross of St Patrick is arguably something that links us to our common roots with others on this island, there is nothing to link us to the UK in the flag (other than the fact that the cross of St Patrick also forms part of the Union Flag).

    God this has gone really OT – I am sorry but I think the arguments have all been made re: the football team anyway.

  • maca

    Well i’m not from the North as you know so you won’t need to sell it to me. But from my perspective it looks like just the normal NI flag (even though the crosses are different). St.Patricks cross is a British flag (designed by British, used by British Army) so if you want to appeal to nationalists too do you think they will accept it?

    Can I give you my idea of a flag? ruff eye dee ah

  • beano

    I think moderate nationalists will, I’ve spoken to one or two (hardly a huge sample I know) and reaction seemed positive, if reserved.

    Isn’t the main objection to the current flag that it contains a) the cross of st george, and b) that it has a crown on it?

    Both these would be removed on the new flag – I only proposed keeping the crown for cermonies involving UK government/royalty. I think making the cross green would turn it into an exclusively Irish flag, which would give more ammo to anyone in the “not an inch” brigade who want to keep the current flag, and there are bound to be enough of those.

  • beano

    OK, got your flag loaded. There’s no chance. Green and orange together like that, intentional or not, has come to represent republicanism. I could never see unionists, myself included, accepting that.

  • Millie

    ‘Imagine how much more prosperous the RoI would be if it had remained within the UK. Unknowable, I know, but I would guess much better…’

    I take it the British disengagement from Empire was a very bad idea then. Damn those bloody nationalists and communists in Ireland, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malaya, India, Oman, Cyprus, Palestine, etc etc etc. In fact Britain’s in the Guinness Book of Records for being the country with the most declarations of independence from.

  • beano

    Millie – do you really think using Zimbabwe as a shining example of the benefits of independence is a good idea?

    I don’t know an awful lot about Cyprus but I gather it isn’t much better than Northern Ireland as far as conflict goes.

  • maca

    Fair enough, just a suggestion Beano. But from my side your flag isn’t any better 😉

  • IJP

    Millie

    The UK had the largest empire, inevitably it would also have had the largest decolonization.

    To play the devil’s advocate, it also has, proportionately, far more former colonies now under democratic rule than any other European former empire including, uniquely, several that have higher per capita GDP than it itself.

    What’s your point?

    Beano and Maca

    You know, instinctively I much prefer Maca’s, although I have no objection whatsoever to either.

    My thrupenny’s worth: either:
    – take Maca’s, make the cross diagonal, and replace orange with blue; or
    – take Beano’s, replace white with green and red with blue.

    You could take that to be ‘green for Catholics’ and ‘blue for Protestants’; but it’d also be ‘green for the land of the emerald isle’ and ‘blue for the lakes’ or ’emerald for Ireland’ and ‘blue for St Patrick’.

    After all that, in fact the biggest problem is the red hand, which these days just comes over to me as a bit aggressive. But hey, why not claim it back?

  • maca

    I don’t mind the red hand (it’s on my family crest) but for some reason I find the white star a bit menacing … go figure!

  • maca

    Another idea … take Beanos and put a harp on it in place of the red hand.

  • beano

    IJP/maca lose the red hand and you lose anything distinctively Northern Irish about it.

    The idea of having the cross of St Patrick was about taking something shared from our past, rather than glazing over it like we don’t have anything.

    The Cross of St Patrick is the only flag that has come close to being accepted as neutral recently, witness the Armagh St Patrick’s day celebrations which seem from the news reports to have been a good example for the rest of Norn Irn.

    Bare in mind that green was chosen as a colour for Ireland because it was associated with rebellion.

    Something tells me this won’t be accepted any time soon, so I might leave the discussion here until I can produce a detailed proposal, which I won’t likely publish til after the election. Meanwhile, I hope OWC do well against England tomorrow and these qualifiers won’t be the last time Northern Ireland meet them!

  • IJP

    beano

    I’d be inclined to go with maca and suggest, as a compromise, retaining the red hand but losing the six-pointed star (a bit too partitionist? just not cool?) in favour of the badge as appears on the 9-county Ulster Flag.

    That said, to be honest any of those designs is good by me, just guessing what would gain most acceptance and what wouldn’t!

  • IJP

    I hope … these qualifiers won’t be the last time Northern Ireland meet them [England]!

    By 4.50pm you might be quite so keen… 🙂

  • Alan2

    C`mon Norn Iron.

    With regards the flags. What about the St Pttricks Cross on blue background with red hand in the middle in yellow start or shield. no crown.

    Or St Patricks Cross with red hand in start or shield. no crown.

  • beano

    Alan: “With regards the flags. What about the St Pttricks Cross on blue background with red hand in the middle in yellow start or shield. no crown.”

    I think that flag‘s already in use.

    “I’d be inclined to go with maca and suggest, as a compromise, retaining the red hand but losing the six-pointed star (a bit too partitionist? just not cool?) in favour of the badge as appears on the 9-county Ulster Flag.”
    But it’s a flag for Northern Ireland, which is the partitioned state – 6 counties, 6 points. Surely a flag for Northern Ireland has to recognise that Northern Ireland exists :\
    Even under the SDLP plans for a Northern Ireland within an all-Ireland state, the same flag could be used since there’s nothing inherently British in it – except for my proposed “state” flag which could see the crown replaced by the harp, used on the president’s flag.

    No?

  • Alan2

    Radio 1 DJ Colin Murray (and ex News Letter journo) does a great job promoting Northern Ireland. There is a real buzz between him and Edith Bowman (Scottish) and there often UK Nations centred banter. He has been on the radio all week hyping the game.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/djs/colinandedith/colin_biography.shtml

  • IJP

    beano

    Surely a flag for Northern Ireland has to recognise that Northern Ireland exists

    You know, that’s actually debatable…

    My point is that the flag would have to be capable of drawing civic respect and loyalty – representative more of a united people rather than a specific territory. But it should not over-do the aspect of partition, every reminder of which is a genuine knee-in-the-groin for your average Nationalist. But that’s only my judgment, perhaps someone could correct me?

    Hence you put that red hand in as a broad regional identifier, and the very fact the flag is used for NI is enough to identify it with NI, if you see what I mean.

  • beano

    See what you mean but don’t agree. I also think if too much is changed it’ll make it a non-starter with unionists who will keep flying the old flag.

    Don’t have time to go into it more now, off to watch OWC thrash the Engurland.

    GREEN AND WHITE ARMY!!

  • Alan2

    It was great to hear “The Murray” cheering on the “Green and White Army” on Radio 1. He has offered to buy the whole bar a bottle of Champaigne when Elliot scores the first goal. 😉

  • maca

    Alan
    “What about the St Pttricks Cross on blue background with red hand in the middle in yellow start or shield. no crown. Or St Patricks Cross with red hand in start or shield. no crown.”

    And anything for the nationalists?

    Beano
    IJP is spot on in his 1:20pm.

    “if too much is changed it’ll make it a non-starter with unionists” and if not enough is changed will it be a non-starter for nationalists? 😉

  • Alan2

    What would you suggest Maca? Maybe some Shamrocks in the four blue sections?

  • maca

    A touch of green would be no harm, Alan 😉

  • Alan2

    I would have no probs with that although it might look rather cluttered as a flag. i always liked the 36th Ulster division badge…union jack…irish harp with the red hand underneath surrounded by 9 shamrocks representing 9 county Ulster. change that to a flag some how..may St PAts cross instead of Union flag….???

  • Alan2

    Excellent first half but 3 goals inside 9 minutes of the the second half starting 🙁

  • maca

    Something like this Alan?

    4-0, to be expected, unfortunatly.

  • IJP

    You see, if we had an all-UK team we wouldn’t have to put up with this… :)))

  • IJP

    Could be worse, we could be getting stuffed at home by Austria…

    I have to say, the Welsh anthem is how to do it, and the Welsh flag isn’t!

  • maca

    The Welsh flag is one of the coolest, IMO.

  • factfinder

    How about a white flag for NI team. They can then give surrender before the massacre of goals engulf them.

  • Ted

    Factfinder

    Surely NI supporters would insist on NO being emblazoned on any such flag :0

  • factfinder

    There will only be arguments over what colour the ‘No’ will be. I suggest go out on the pitch then do a ‘U’ turn with a mascot with its tail between its legs.

  • factfinder

    The NI team flag could be a white ST Pats cross in a white background with a White hand of Ulster and a white crown. This way they won’t offend the two catholics supporters in the stands at Windsor Park.

  • spirit-level

    A good time for NornIron to join the Republic

  • factfinder

    And then games will be played in a non sectarian atmosphere.

  • IJP

    factfinder

    Really?

    When’s the last time you were at Windsor, out of interest?

  • factfinder

    It has been some years. I went to watch NI play against England(got beat 3-1)but even then it felt hostile.

  • factfinder

    It was even more hostile on the pitch between our Georgie and United team-mate Bobby C.