Northern Ireland, sport and nationality…

Bertie Ahern has appealed to UEFA not to impose a regulation on Northern Irish players that they must travel on British Passports, saying that it should be a matter for individuals to decide, rather than a sports organisation. Interestingly he puts his appeal in the context of the increasingly defunct Belfast Agreement. Interestingly, it comes at a time when interest in local soccer amongst Northern Irish nationalists is at a low ebb. And if this conversation on a Ulster Rugby fan site is anything to go by, it has an analogue within rugby.

  • The Beach Tree

    Mick

    The most positive thing from the site you linked to was the civility of it – touchy and dangerous issues, handled generally by ‘both’ sides with aplomb and consideration, and genuine mutual curiosity.

    I don’t think Bertie should push the issue, although I think, given that everyone in the ‘wee six’ is entitled to dual nationality, that he’s right in principal, but nothing to die in a ditch over. god knows we’ll take the passport that’s most useful usually.

    I would say that I’m far more comfortable at Ravenhill than Windsor Park – but I think that’s classist as much as sectarian – I’m much more comfortable at Clones than at Solitude as well.

    Mind you, I’d take Old Trafford over anywhere else!

    Personally ulster winning the Heineken is one of my favourite sporting memories. The decent and warm reception given to Northern, mainly unionist, supporters that day going down, with NI AND Ulster flags on the road all the way down, probably did more good for actual North South Relations than any political skullduggery ever did. And it was not a neutral culture thing, it was a fascinating blend of culture thing.

    one of those rare days i was proud of my allegiance to both North and South – Hopeful days they were…

  • Patrick_Bateman

    Sadly I have no sub with Irish Indo so I guess I am not really commenting on the thread, but the Ulster Rugby blog interested me.

    A great many Ulster fans I speak to (I am one myself) express the views of the original poster on the rugby blog. My fans accept that while it is a fav past time of sports fans to criticise the management of a team, the fans are not in the best position to judge who should/should not be selected for any particular squad or on the training styles/promotion of a sporting culture in a team etc. However, there is a general view among many rugby fans that there is indeed a Munster Leinster group of players, due to the size of their compliment, their personal and clubs relationships, are exercising a considerable amount of influence to almost exclude Ulster players.

    I know that until there are sufficient Ulster players on the Ireland squad there is little point of an Ireland team manager relying on the club training (the way certain positions 9/10, front rows etc.) to help the gelling of a team and transferring this experience for the benefit of an Ireland rugby squad.

    I guess Ulster fans will just have to console themselves by relatively consistently beating Munster and Leinster in the Celtic league 😉

    But I wonder if the Ireland v England fixture in the next six nations will be held at Croke Park? If anyone can help and let me know if fixtures are out………..

    Also, how the Ireland crowd as a whole would react to some Ulster and Ireland rugby fans (if they choose to) singing God Save the Queen as their ‘Irish’ National Anthem?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Is this really a big issue? Is it a matter of life and death? Northern Irealnd is an integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Thus, it makes sense that anyone from the UK should carry a UK passport. However, if someone is so bitter with the “Brits” as to despise all things British, personally I don’t want them carrying a British passport and representing the British people…

  • páid

    I attended the Ireland v Scotland match at a wet Lansdowne rd lately and I made a small, personal point of only wearing green and white colours. If people don’t feel comfortable with tricolours about them, (and Ulster rugby fans tell us they don’t), then they don’t feel comfortable, and good sports fans should understand that. Ireland’s call is not a great tune, is in English only, and makes no mention of the 5th province – our emigrants. But if everyone can sing along then it will do me just fine. And if a prod Ulster rugby fan flies a 9 county ulster flag instead of a NI flag at Ravenhill, I appreciate the gesture. I’ll still cheer for Connacht!

  • “However, if someone is so bitter with the “Brits” as to despise all things British, personally I don’t want them carrying a British passport and representing the British people…”

    CL
    Just by having an Irish passport, the holder is not necessarily making an anti-Brit statement. And if they are happy (and good enough;)) to play for Northern Ireland, then I’ll support them whatever their personal politics.

    Regarding supporting the Irish rugby team, I feel the same way towards them as probably the majority of NI nationalists feel towards the NI football team-complete apathy, no matter how many Ulster players are playing in the XV, it’s simply not my team.

    As the first guy said on the rugby site, it’s perhaps not a very PC thing to say, but Ulster( even the 9 county version!) winning the Heinken actually meant something to me in a way that anything Ireland achieves never will.

  • foreign correspondent

    Concerned Loyalist,
    I was born in ´the integral part´ of the UK called Northern Ireland.
    I have an Irish passport and only an Irish passport,and I always will because I´m Irish.
    You presumably have a British one, and always will because you´re British.
    I respect your choice.
    Respect mine and those who make the same choice as me, without bringing up accusations of ´bitterness´.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    foreign correspondent,
    I understand why you perceive yourself to be “Irish”, although personally I find that label oppressive, narrow-minded and unrepresentative of me, an Ulsterman and a British citizen.

    You obviously do have “beef” with the British if you don’t carry the national passport, however. Canadians don’t carry U.S. passports for example – they carry their own national passport. If you were born or brought up in the Banana Republic/Free State, the national passport is an Irish one, but if you are born or brought up in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, the national passport is a British one, so you are making a statement by carrying a foreign passport…do you see now how I would come to that conclusion?

  • foreign correspondent

    CL you´re right. The scales have fallen from my eyes. I must rush off and get my hands on a UK passport, and throw this foreign banana-republic passport in the bin. How narrowminded of me to have clung to this oppressive Irish identity up to now…
    PS Is your real name Peter Robinson :-)?

  • Tochais Siorai

    CL would appear to be suggesting, if the logic of his post is carried through, that in the event of a united Ireland, unionists should not have the right to carry British passports as they would no longer be UK residents

  • Point of Order:

    This is a classic case of how the personal supplants substance on Slugger.

  • foreign correspondent

    sorry, Mick…
    to stick to the substance then, Bertie Ahern, for once, is talking sense.
    I think UEFA made an exception to let Derry City play in the League of Ireland, (didn´t they?) so they could make another exception here.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Rephrase:

    CL, are you suggesting that in the event of a united Ireland, unionists should not have the right to carry British passports as they would no longer be UK residents?

  • Young Fogey

    there is indeed a Munster Leinster group of players, due to the size of their compliment, their personal and clubs relationships, are exercising a considerable amount of influence to almost exclude Ulster players.

    True, but shoes have been on various feet over the years. Remember Rob Saunders? How the hell did he get to play scrum-half for Ireland (answer – Daddy had the right IRFU connections). Even the most diehard Ulster fan (and I am pretty close) has to admit as a team we’re inconsistent and that David Humphreys is inconsistent – although magical on his day and O’Gara has his issues as well.

  • Dr Strangelove

    CL : “I understand why you perceive yourself to be “Irish”, although personally I find that label oppressive, narrow-minded and unrepresentative of me, an Ulsterman and a British citizen.”

    Luckily CL, FC was not applying that label to you.
    Your remarkable ability to respect the other man’s view on the core issue of the Irish question, nationality, bodes well for your future together.

  • Dec

    I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what CL says. He appears to be under the impression that the UDA is a ‘proper army and all’ and appears to be advocating race-war over on the repartition thread.

  • Dec,

    That doesn’t mean he’s not capeable of making valid points. As much distaste as I have for some of his comments, I have found him generally to be well mannered and he has made me reexamine my own position a number of times.

    I suggest taking each argument or point on its own merit.

  • Bertie’s right. If someone is born in Northern Ireland and wants to play for Northern Ireland that should be enough. I’m happy to support anyone who gladly pulls on a Norn Iron shirt as long as they play their heart out for it.

  • blandy

    Ref rugby flags – flying the NI flag at ravers is the same as flying the Tricolour at landsdowne, neither fully represents the team being played but are waved by most of the respective fans (either by ignorance or intent).

    One could ban both at each match, which I dont think we should, rugby famously manages not to get worked up about these things and generally tolerates them. Or officially fly both at each match (or at least at the international – not the 9 county one we get fobbed off with), such that neither are seen as alien or threatening.

    PS w.r.t. the UJ in the fly of some of the NI flags – this is a silly bit of ‘uber-briting’ and should be discouraged, whereever the flag is flown.

  • Spailpín

    Small point – It wasnt Bertie Ahern it was Dermot Ahern who wrote to UEFA.

  • Keith M

    I’d be interested to know how many Northern Ireland players actually travel under an Irish passport. I suspect that it may be as many or even fewer than the number of players from this country who travel under a U.K. passport.

    It’s sad to see Ulster rugby fans feeling an alienation from the Irish team. I think one solution might be to start play more games at Ravenhill. International friendlies, underage games etc.

    If this doesn’t work then maybe rugby should follow football and have two teams instead of one. Ulster would surely be able to hold their own against Scotland or Italy.

  • iluvni

    I’m wishing Dermot Ahern would keep his neb out of issues relating to Northern Ireland football team.
    WTF has it to do with him?

    If he wants to look at any issue, he’d be best asking the FAI to stop poaching our young players.

  • missfitz

    Dermot Ahern made the point this evening on radio, that the point is the GFA. Anyone born on the island of Ireland is entititled to either or both citizenship, and should not forced into a position of chosing one over the other. Its a fair point, and all he asked for, according to the interview, were some guidelines from UEFA for foreign officials, recognising the validity of an Irish passport for an NI player.

    Doesnt sound like that big a deal now does it?

  • doire

    With the success of the Sentanta cup it won’t be long before we have a north/south league that will lead to a better standard of football across the island.

    Then maybe in time we might be able to unite behind an all-ireland soccer team.

  • dantheman

    Hear, hear. Bring on an all ireland league, if not necessarily a national team. For those worried unionists, Bertie Ahern is only enforcing ROI (and UK) law so don’t worry too much.

  • dantheman

    Keith M

    Over half the population of the 9 counties of ulster which the team represents would not be in favour of this….

  • tra g

    “If he wants to look at any issue, he’d be best asking the FAI to stop poaching our young players.”

    I presume you are talking about Derry’s up and coming Manchester United winger, Darron Gibson.

    Gibson will be in action for the Ireland u19’s during the second round of qualifying in the elite stages of the european u19 tournament in May.

    His reasons for playing for Ireland are pretty simple. In an interview a while back he talked about how he and his friends sat glued to the tv watching the Republic in the world cup in 2002 and hearing stories about relatives and friends relatives who had attended the world cup finals in Italy and the USA.

    He also said he had been down to Lansdowne to watch the games on a number of occasions as a young lad.

    I’m sure it was a natural decision for the kid as he had grown up following the team, as had his family and neighbours.

    A young sportsman should have the right to choose his prefered team, i think Ireland is pretty unique in this respect.

    A number of other young footballers from Derry have also represented the Republic in the last year.

    Eugene Ferrry made his debut for Ireland in two friendlies against Malta in February of this year.

    Mark Mukendi played at u18 level during the first european qualifying stage last October.

    Saul Deeney represented Ireland t u21 level a couple of seasons ago.

    Daniel Lafferty from Celtic has played at underage international level.

    Marc Wilson is part of the Ireland under 18 squad.

    It really comes down to personal choice, if you grow up supporting the team and your community does likewise, its probably an easy decision.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Dantheman

    I don’t think you would find five percent of Ulster rugby folk who’d be interested in partitioning Irish rugby and frankly, it’s pretty nasty of Keith to suggest creating division in one of the few areas of Irish life where we have a kind of unity.

    As another poster said further up, the rugby crowd famously manage to simply not get worked up over little details – unlike most of the rest of us – and that’s something to be celebrated and indeed emulated. Keith might be salivating at the prospect of an imminent schism within Irish rugby, as he salivates over the prospect of any kind of rancour within the Ireland he despises – but he’ll be disappointed with the reality.

    (I remember slugging pints of Guinness til all hours in Slattery’s after watching Ulster’s immortal victory in ’99. I ran onto the pitch wearing my yellow Ulster GAA jersey and ended up dancing and singing around with lads who were waving Ulster flags etc. Surreal but wonderful. In the pub, two of the Belfast Protestant lads I was with were wearing, respectively, the white of Ulster and the green of Ireland, and, along with the rest of the pub, we sang “I’ll tell my ma” and “Carrickfergus” and “The Boys from County Armagh” til we were weeping into our stout. That was a day that will stay with me forever. That was a great day for all the people of Ulster and a great for all the people of Ireland. So frankly, ahem, fuck you Keith.)

  • dantheman

    I reckon keith should go to edinburgh, cardiff or london and petition for a uk rugby team instead!

    Likewise i have been to ravenhill and lansdowne rd with protestant friends and and many a nights craic.

  • slug

    Disappointed at the vulgar ad hominem comments aimed at Keith there.

  • dantheman

    yes, watch the vulgarities! but no comeback from keith yet. hopefully he’ll have a good case to argue and some, ahem, new evidence

  • slug

    dantheman .

    The people on the ulster rugby forum made the original comments about not feeling anything special when the Ireland team play, maybe feeling a bit excluded and its to their credit that no “fuck off” comments were delivered on THAT site.

    Its possibly something that should not be treated with derision or denail; rather it might be worthing thinking more about why. I have to add that I think Keith’s suggestion of playing more games in NI as a way of rectifying this problem is a good one.

  • Realist

    “With the success of the Sentanta cup it won’t be long before we have a north/south league that will lead to a better standard of football across the island.”

    I don’t believe that will be the case.

    I can see a bigger and better cup competition, but a full blown league is highly unlikely.

    Also…UEFA’s new rules on eligiblity make interesting reading for anyone at the FAI thinking of acquiring some of the northern talent in future.

    Looks like those days may be over.

  • dantheman

    I think a league may be on the cards, the IL is not in good shape. But I would NOT be pushing for an all ireland team.

    Slug
    Of course I agree more games should be in belfast, including full ireland games.

    Realist
    In fairness the republic was hardly kidnapping teenagers now was it? People have a right to play for the republic if they see fit. Better than making people play for NI if they don’t want to i would suggest. 2 teams with people in the north having the right to play for either seems the best setup.

  • kensei

    “Also…UEFA’s new rules on eligiblity make interesting reading for anyone at the FAI thinking of acquiring some of the northern talent in future.”

    Eh? Everyone born here is entitled to an Irish passport, so anyone who wants to can declare for the Republic. Which will be the vast majority of Nationalist community, since that’s who we support. In fact a large section will cheer against the NI team.

  • Mick Fealty

    Billy,

    To be fair to Keith he was simply drawing from the sense of alienation from some on the site I linked to. Though it’s clearly not possible to quantify from that discussion as to what extent it exists in the real world.

    Ironically I think tra g’s contribution shows how little any of these ‘unities’ can be taken for granted. In my youth Glentoran had a large Catholic following. Then in the eighties most people moved their allegence to Cliftonville. More recently, it seems, most nationalist supporters (around Belfast at least) focus on the Republic’s and Glasgow Celtic’s fortunes and eschew local football altogether.

    In Derry, where the older local team plays in the FAI league, it’s not surprising that young players will choose the Republic. But is that practical for those in Belfast in the longer term?

    I doubt very much if a breakaway is in the offing – though I also doubt O’Sullivan’s Munster fixation has helped in diplomatic terms with people north of the border. However I’m not sure your “fuck you” remark does much to bolster the increasingly fragile spirit of unity you were clearly trying to convey.

    All,

    I have heard (but haven’t read it) that some members of the Irish sports press corp, irked by the fact that Amhrán na bhFiann is no longer played away from Dublin, are refusing to stand for ‘Ireland’s Call’. Can anyone confirm/deny?

    Also, one of the possible consequences of bringing international rugby back to Ravenhill is that the players might be expected to stand for God Save the Queen which was the convention right up to the last full international played there.

    Are any of our Nationalist commenters prepared extend the same magnanimous courtesy that many unambiguously unionist supporters (and players) of Ireland’s rugby team routinely show in Landsdowne Road every year?

  • In my own opinion, God Save the Queen in Ravenhill & Amhrán na bhFiann in Dublin is an honerable compromise, I think Irelands Call should be ditched altogether cause it’s bland and crap. The north-east should get a different anthem to GSTQ though, because it’s silly when England are playing to have the same anthem, anything would be better, “The Sash” even! In fairness we should all be singing La Marseillaise anyway because it’s the best of the lot!

  • Mick – that issue will come to the fore if the Maze Stadium ever gets built, with the IRFU agreeing to a (staggering) 1 autumn friendly every 2 years.

    I don’t believe for a second they will play GSTQ, along with Ireland’s call, as the anthem of the hosting state – which is one excuse I’ve heard for playing the Republic’s anthem in Dublin (the other being the presence of the Irish PM/President – I forget which).

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Keith

    Just wanted to withdraw the ad hominem remarks further up. Uncalled for. I apologise unreservedly. Don’t know what came over me.

    And I’ll also apologise to Mick for lowering the tone.

    Though I stand by the substance of my argument.

  • tra g

    “In Derry, where the older local team plays in the FAI league, it’s not surprising that young players will choose the Republic. But is that practical for those in Belfast in the longer term?”

    Mick

    I think its as practicle from Belfast as it is from Cork, young players like Darron Gibson lives and plays in Manchester, Marc Wilson plays for Portsmouth, Lafferty for Celtic so the practicalities of travelling for internationals
    is the same as any young player at international level.

  • David

    I would like to know how this new rulling would effect other countries. If people had to have a certain passport to play for a country would this exclude the likes of Ronaldo playing for Brazil because I am lead to belive he now has a Spanish passport

  • Kensei

    “Eh? Everyone born here is entitled to an Irish passport, so anyone who wants to can declare for the Republic”

    You obviously haven’t checked the new UEFA rules before responding:

    http://www.tiscali.co.uk/news/newswire.php/news/reuters/2005/04/19/sport/uefaseenapprovingnewrulesonyoungsters.html

    My understanding is that players can carry whatever passport they like, but it may well affect their eligibility to turnout for a team which plays in another country to the national team their passport qualifies them for.

    “In fact a large section (of nationalists) will cheer against the NI team”.

    Rather a sad statement, why should NI matter at all to them if they are supporting the ROI?

  • Mick Fealty

    Tra g,

    There’s no doubt there has been a steady flow of players from GAA to soccer, Jennings, Quinn, Moran. But these would have played soccer locally.

    I just raise the question, but if there is a gap between local junior and senior levels of soccer amongst Northern Irish nationalists, could we not expect youngsters to turn to other (mostly GAA) codes in the longer term?

    Does anyone know whether there has there been such an effect already?

  • Realist

    “Also, one of the possible consequences of bringing international rugby back to Ravenhill is that the players might be expected to stand for God Save the Queen which was the convention right up to the last full international played there.”

    Mick,

    I think it unlikely that we will see a full Irish International test match at Ravenhill, but with the likelihood of a new provincial stadium, it is likely that Northern Ireland will host such fixtures in future.

    Whilst I do not have the dates to hand, my understanding is that the last time Ireland played at Ravenhill and GSTQ was to be played as the anthem, several 26 county players expressed that they were “uncomfortable” with it. In consequence, the Northern Ireland born players agreed to dispense with it so as not to offend their team mates.

  • With the current wave of success currently enveloping Ulster GAA, there’s certainly much glamour in the idea of a young lad lining out for Tyrone or Armagh against the likes of Kerry or Dublin in a packed Croke Park. Although the GAA doesn’t have the same financial rewards as soccer the thrill of playing for your county may be a much more attractive proposition than chancing your arm in the lower reaches of the English League One or Two with no guarantee of success. Also, with the GAA, young players can live closer to home and can also have a proper job with considerably more long term financial security than would be guaranteed by an unfashionable lower division soccer club. I’m just speculating here, but I would imagine that such a trend as mentioned above by Mick has taken place.

  • “Although the GAA doesn’t have the same financial rewards as soccer the thrill of playing for your county may be a much more attractive proposition than chancing your arm in the lower reaches of the English League One or Two with no guarantee of success”

    Another factor, to bear in mind here is that the number of young players from not only NI, but also Wales and Scotland actually making it to first-team level in England is now much smaller than even twenty years ago.

    Most clubs now consider it more economically viable to import the finished product from abroad rather than to spend the money needed to develop a scouting network and run a set of youth teams.

  • Mick Fealty

    Paul,

    Niall Quinn talks about that in his Britain and Ireland interview.

    As he suggests, it’s partly to do with fierce competition from new soccer nations, but much as it is to the benefit of GAA, Catholics falling en masse away from local soccer can only impoverish the pool of talent our young Soccer players get to stretch themselves against.

    Another question.

    Is there a sense in which the dropping of old ambiguities around issues of nationality in sport will inevitably lead to starker choices for young people, and a stern underwriting of the kind of separate development ethic that (ironically) the Belfast Agreement was supposed to undermine?

  • kensei

    “Rather a sad statement, why should NI matter at all to them if they are supporting the ROI?”

    In general it doesn’t. NI means nothing to me. The football team, however has a rather big association with sectarian chanting and intimidation of players because they play for Celtic, so i’m more than happy to see them lose.

    “My understanding is that players can carry whatever passport they like, but it may well affect their eligibility to turnout for a team which plays in another country to the national team their passport qualifies them for.”

    If you that link, there are spots for people who were trained in the association regardless of nationality. So unles there is a huge invasion of Nationslists to a clib, I don’t really see it as a big deal.

  • Realist

    “The football team, however has a rather big association with sectarian chanting and intimidation of players because they play for Celtic, so i’m more than happy to see them lose”

    kensei,

    The current Northern Ireland Under 21 goalkeeper plays for Celtic.

    Would you want his representative team to get beaten in the important fixtures they have coming up shortly?

  • Mike

    And of course Realist, the ‘sectarian chanting’ doesn’t actually happen at NI games.

    Despite what some people would have others believe.

  • Brian Boru

    UEFA should back off. Northerner’s who consider themselves Irish should be entitled to Irish passports as at present. The bureacrats far away do not understand local sensitivities.

  • Brian Boru

    People in Great Britain don’t see NI as British anyway. They see it as foreign. Example:

    http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=53&si=1589458&issue_id=13862

  • pakman

    Brian Boru

    wishful thinking. In my experience living on the mainland my English friends didn’t even see my pal from Limerick as foreign – just different in a less jarring way than our Welsh house mate.

  • Fraggle

    pakman, what part of the mainland, was it France? Anyway, english people living on the mainland are ex-pats and can’t be regarded as typical anyway.

  • pakman

    Fraggle

    17 minutes to bight – what kept you?

    LOL!

  • Stephen Copeland

    17 minutes to bight – what kept you?

    Maybe he was spell-checking. You should try it!

  • Mick Fealty

    Mike,

    I’m not sure as to what extent the behaviours you’re alluding still exist. We did have one smart Alec who frauduently (under a wheen of different names) accused NI supporters of abusive behaviour all over Windsor Park.

    It was obvious by the time the real supporters came home and onto Slugger that he had simply been engaged in ‘group slander’.

  • Realist

    “UEFA should back off. Northerner’s who consider themselves Irish should be entitled to Irish passports as at present.”

    Brian Boru,

    No one is saying that they are not entitled to Irish passports.

    No one is trying to take their Irish passports away.

    It would help if all stuck to the facts of the “problem” here.

  • kensei

    “The current Northern Ireland Under 21 goalkeeper plays for Celtic.

    Would you want his representative team to get beaten in the important fixtures they have coming up shortly?”

    Don’t support Celtic, NI means nothing to me, don’t really care either way and you are missing the point.

    “And of course Realist, the ‘sectarian chanting’ doesn’t actually happen at NI games.

    Despite what some people would have others believe.

    Of course not! I imagined the fuss over Neil Lennon. Couple of years ago, admittedly, but the perception still lingers, and I couldn’t honestly say I’d feel comfortable there, even if I had any inclination to go.

  • Realist

    kensai,

    “I imagined the fuss over Neil Lennon. Couple of years ago, admittedly, but the perception still lingers”

    Yes it does…and that’s why one national paper paid a sizeable sum of money to charity for printing lies about Northern Ireland fans surrounding the Lennon affair.

    “I couldn’t honestly say I’d feel comfortable there, even if I had any inclination to go”

    Is that primarily because you resent the existance of the very State of Northern Ireland, or for any other reason?

    If the former, I fully understand your position. If the latter, please provide detail.

    “and you are missing the point”

    What is your point?

  • kensei

    “Yes it does…and that’s why one national paper paid a sizeable sum of money to charity for printing lies about Northern Ireland fans surrounding the Lennon affair.”

    Great. It was slightly less bad than was made out. I’m sure your proud.

    “Is that primarily because you resent the existance of the very State of Northern Ireland, or for any other reason?”

    That’d be why I’d never support the team. But I might go to watch the football, if it was good enough. But due to the location of Windsor Park, the only NI supporters clubs I’ve ever seen are in seriously hardcore loyalist areas, and the fact that it was inhabited by bigots for years (absolutely undeniable, and statistically speaking, there are also some still there, even if they are being quiet these days), I can live without that kind of tension.

  • Realist

    “But due to the location of Windsor Park, the only NI supporters clubs I’ve ever seen are in seriously hardcore loyalist areas, and the fact that it was inhabited by bigots for years (absolutely undeniable, and statistically speaking, there are also some still there, even if they are being quiet these days), I can live without that kind of tension”

    kensai,

    I understand.

    As a Co Antrim unionist, I have never felt comfortable enough to go and watch my County GAA team play for exactly the same reasons as you state…what with the location of the stadium certain events that have taken place there, and some of the individuals who tend to go along.

    If you don’t support the NI team for political reasons, and have stated that you would cheer against them, would you honestly expect a warm welcome from Northern Ireland fans given your hostilities towards the team?

    “the only NI supporters clubs I’ve ever seen are in seriously hardcore loyalist areas”

    You haven’t been looking very hard.

  • kensei

    “If you don’t support the NI team for political reasons, and have stated that you would cheer against them, would you honestly expect a warm welcome from Northern Ireland fans given your hostilities towards the team?”

    I don’t care about a warm welcome, and I’d be quite happy to be in the away end. It’s the threat of actual bodily harm and/or death that worries me. But to be clear, it’s ok for it to be intimidating then? There is such a thing as friendly banter, you know and I’ve never seen political affliation as a prequiste for well, most things.

    “You haven’t been looking very hard.”

    I must have the missed the huge number in Nationalist areas. I’ll keep looking. I walk past the one at Sandy Row and drive past the one on the Shankill all the time, though.

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “don’t care about a warm welcome, and I’d be quite happy to be in the away end”

    But it’s immaterial – you don’t support Northern Ireland. Why would you want to sit in the away end?

    “It’s the threat of actual bodily harm and/or death that worries me.”

    Why? We haven’t gotten around to asking people their religion and/or politics on the way through the turnstiles yet.

    “But to be clear, it’s ok for it to be intimidating then?”

    In what way and to whom?

    “I’ve never seen political affliation as a prequiste for well, most things”

    But you made it clear earlier that you do not support the Northern Ireland team for political reasons, and in fact are hostile to it!

    “I must have the missed the huge number in Nationalist areas”

    Nobody suggested there was any in such areas.

    Many clubs have “mixed” membership and meet in places that are not “seriously hardcore loyalist areas”.

    “I walk past the one at Sandy Row and drive past the one on the Shankill all the time, though”

    And?

    If you don’t want to support the Northern Ireland team because of your politics, that’s fine. If you are hostile to the Northern Ireland team, that’s fine too – no problem.

    Just stop gurning about it and making up excuses for your political opinions.

    Let those who do support Northern Ireland get on with dealing with the problems they wish to address.

    PS: I am surprised to learn that Shaftsbury Square is a “seriously hardcore loyalist area”.

  • George

    Paul,
    “My understanding is that players can carry whatever passport they like, but it may well affect their eligibility to turnout for a team which plays in another country to the national team their passport qualifies them for.”

    I don’t think this has anything to do with club football. The problem Ahern is referring to, as far as I understand it, is that you can no longer declare for a country unless you are eligible for a passport and I assume that UEFA officials are asking for British passports to ensure the players are eligible.

    As such, the footballers could keep their Irish passports but would have to also have British ones.

  • kensei
    “If you that (UEFA) link, there are spots for people who were trained in the association regardless of nationality. So unles there is a huge invasion of Nationslists to a clib, I don’t really see it as a big deal”

    No, I think you’ve missed the point. As I pointed out earlier, the number of youngsters from NI and ROI being actively recruited by English and Scottish clubs has fallen dramatically over the last 20 years. Those few lads will have no problem in the future playing for both their club and whatever national association they decide to go with. The problem will be with those with Irish passports who are recruited at a later age, as far as I can understand (and I’m not an expert in UEFA-esque), they may well be prevented from playing in England, if the clubs have reached their quota.

    Mick

    “but much as it is to the benefit of GAA, Catholics falling en masse away from local soccer can only impoverish the pool of talent our young Soccer players get to stretch themselves against.”

    I’ve no idea if there are less Catholics playing in the junior and youth leagues. I suspect (perhaps an expert like Realist could confirm?!) that in total, there are less people of both and no religions playing below senior level for a variety of reasons; the increasing popularity of the Gaelic games could well be one cause, the fact that it’s easier to watch English and Scottish premiership games might be another.
    The end result has been a dilution of quality.

    “Is there a sense in which the dropping of old ambiguities around issues of nationality in sport will inevitably lead to starker choices for young people, and a stern underwriting of the kind of separate development ethic that (ironically) the Belfast Agreement was supposed to undermine?”

    I really hope this doesn’t happen and this is why it’s important that the IFA stand their ground against UEFA with regards this passport question. Anybody who wishes to and is good enough to be selected should be allowed to play for NI, irrespective of what passport they are more comfortable with.

    If UEFA are successful then we’re potentially going to see a ghettoisation of not only the two international teams supporters, but also players, similar to the situation which existed with Rangers and Celtic until recently.

  • kensei

    “But it’s immaterial – you don’t support Northern Ireland. Why would you want to sit in the away end?”

    I think you answered your question there.

    “Why? We haven’t gotten around to asking people their religion and/or politics on the way through the turnstiles yet.”

    I have a taig name. If I said the wrong thing, mentioned the wrong places, you might be noticed by the wrong people. Nothing will happen inside the ground, but outsde it? Someone recognises you 6 months later and is looking for a fight. Do I seriously have to describe how this works?

    “In what way and to whom?”

    Well, if I don’t get a warm welcome, I get……?

    “But you made it clear earlier that you do not support the Northern Ireland team for political reasons, and in fact are hostile to it!”

    I am probably more opposed to Man Utd on principle, but that’s not stopped me from having Man Utd supporting friends, or watching Man Utd matches with them, though admittedly not at the ground. It’s part of the fun.

    “And?”

    Oh give over. You know clearly the point I was making.

    “Just stop gurning about it and making up excuses for your political opinions.”

    I’m neither gurning nor making up excuses. It’s just how it is, and I was answering questions. Unless you don’t want discussion.

    “Let those who do support Northern Ireland get on with dealing with the problems they wish to address.”

    Fair enough, but the question in hand was over Nationality, which effects my team.

    “PS: I am surprised to learn that Shaftsbury Square is a “seriously hardcore loyalist area”. ”

    Sandy Row most definately is. I wonder who frequents that supporters club. And for the record, I’ve had mates beat up in kebabs shps seconds from that.

    ” The problem will be with those with Irish passports who are recruited at a later age, as far as I can understand (and I’m not an expert in UEFA-esque), they may well be prevented from playing in England, if the clubs have reached their quota.”

    No I think you miss understand. It doesn’t seem to be just a simple nationality rule, and there seems to be a quota of **players developed in that association regardless of nationality** which could potentially help Irish players, as they are more likely to be recruited at a young age. In theory, this could cause problems, but it doesn’t look to be as severe as the three foreigners rule did in the early nineties. The bottom line is, is the players are good enough, they’ll make room.

  • “there seems to be a quota of **players developed in that association regardless of nationality** which could potentially help Irish players, as they are more likely to be recruited at a young age.”

    But that’s the whole point I’m making. A lot fewer youngsters from ROI,NI, are being developed by, in this case the English FA, they are no longer being recruited at a young age as was the case in the 70s and 80s. And OK it’s probably not going to be as damaging as the 3 foreigners rule, but it will still have a detrimental effect

  • kensei

    “But that’s the whole point I’m making. A lot fewer youngsters from ROI,NI, are being developed by, in this case the English FA, they are no longer being recruited at a young age as was the case in the 70s and 80s. And OK it’s probably not going to be as damaging as the 3 foreigners rule, but it will still have a detrimental effect”

    But they are highly unlikely to be picked up at a later age, and even less likely to go straight into the first 11. It would be rare at the moment. Looks to me like net effect zip, but we shall see.

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “I think you answered your question there”

    To support the other team, no matter who that may be?

    That’s bizarre! Why not go and support the national team that you feel most affiliated with, rather than showing hostility to the Northern Ireland team?

    “I have a taig name”

    So what? I attend with various guys with “taig” names.

    “If I said the wrong thing, mentioned the wrong places”

    What like?

    “you might be noticed by the wrong people”

    Why, are you well known to the “wrong people”?

    “Nothing will happen inside the ground, but outsde it?”

    Well, if you being openly hostile towards the Northern Ireland team, I guess some Northern Ireland supporters might take exception to that, depending on the nature of your hostility.

    I think that happens at football grounds throughout the world.

    Why would you want to go simply to cause offence, or to be offended?

    “Someone recognises you 6 months later and is looking for a fight. Do I seriously have to describe how this works?”

    Recognises you how? As someone who was at a football match?

    What’s your point with all of this waffle?

    “I am probably more opposed to Man Utd on principle, but that’s not stopped me from having Man Utd supporting friends, or watching Man Utd matches with them, though admittedly not at the ground. It’s part of the fun”

    Brilliant. I have friends who support loads of different teams, including some very good friends who support the Republic Of Ireland. One of them even came to watch Northern Ireland with me last year at Windsor Park. He enjoyed it immensely.

    Why, only last week I found myself drinking with Bohemians supporters in Dalymount in Dublin , before going to watch my club team, Linfield, play Shelbourne at Tolka Park.I had a great day.

    In fact, because of my support of Northern Ireland, I have sttruck up friendships with various people around the world.

    “Oh give over. You know clearly the point I was making”

    I don’t…what is it?

    “I’m neither gurning nor making up excuses. It’s just how it is, and I was answering questions. Unless you don’t want discussion.”

    What is it you wish to discuss? Have you the best interests of the Northern Ireland team at heart? If not, what do we need to discuss?

    “Fair enough, but the question in hand was over Nationality, which effects my team”

    As I said, I’ve no problems with nationality and how it effects your team. Just stop gurning about my team, whom you are hostile to.

    “I wonder who frequents that supporters club”

    I haven’t a clue…I have never been over the door of it.

    “And for the record, I’ve had mates beat up in kebabs shps seconds from that”

    I got clipped outside a bar seconds from it a few years ago too.

    So what?

  • kensei

    “To support the other team, no matter who that may be?

    That’s bizarre! Why not go and support the national team that you feel most affiliated with, rather than showing hostility to the Northern Ireland team?”

    A man who has never heard of the ABU.

    “So what? I attend with various guys with “taig” names.”

    So I’d feel comfortable and the sad truth is you never know who is paying attention.

    “If I said the wrong thing, mentioned the wrong places”

    The Falls, Ardoyne, half the places my relatives live.

    “Why, are you well known to the “wrong people”?”

    No, but you don’t need ot be. In many case you just have to be different if you walk in the wrong area.

    “I think that happens at football grounds throughout the world.”

    Maybe at Milwall.

    “Why would you want to go simply to cause offence, or to be offended?”

    I’d want to go to watch football, if the opposition was of sufficient quality. If you get offended with me standing there it’s your business.

    “Recognises you how? As someone who was at a football match?”

    Recognise you as the taig from the football match. May never happen. The small chance it might is one I’d rather avoid.

    “What’s your point with all of this waffle?”

    That’d I’d feel uncomfortable and would doubt I’d be safe. What’s yours?

    “In fact, because of my support of Northern Ireland, I have sttruck up friendships with various people around the world.”

    Right, nice for you. The point being you don’t need to support the side to have a good time. Which was my point, I think. Great for you and all that. Now we have Linfield brought up here, can you explain how when I was at uni in the last few years living on the Lisburn Road, I could hear the dulcet strains of “The Billy Boys” coming through my window on Saturday?

    “What is it you wish to discuss? Have you the best interests of the Northern Ireland team at heart? If not, what do we need to discuss?”

    I thought this was a discussion here. Am I missing something? I discuss Man Utd and Arsenal with my mates, and I certainly don’t have there best interests at heart, but we can still have an interesting debate, because we have differnet points of view. And hey! don’t forget the joys of the wind-up.

    “As I said, I’ve no problems with nationality and how it effects your team. Just stop gurning about my team, whom you are hostile to.”

    Ah right. If Windsor Park again becomes a bigotted sectarian hellhole, I am not allowed to “gurn” about it?

    “I haven’t a clue…I have never been over the door of it.”

    Neither have I. Given the location of though, we could hazard a guess.

    “I got clipped outside a bar seconds from it a few years ago too.

    So what?”

    So the original point was that every area I’ve seen one in has been in or around a rough loyalist area, therefore there must be some rough loyalists at some games, therefore I would feel neither comfortable or safe if I choose to go.

    Also you seem to have it in your head that I want to stir trouble by going. I don’t. I like football, and if there was a good team on I would merely like the option of watching them in the flesh, it’s normally a rare oppurtunity. I’ll leave the tricolour at home. Big deal if I cheer the other if I go to the right end of the ground? IFA stills gets some money so it’s win/win. And the point is I’m sure there are some people who have the same issues but would be happy to cheer NI and they are excluded to.

  • tra g

    Good to see 18 year old Darron Gibson in the Man U squad for tomorrow nights game against West Ham.

    The Derry lad could be the new ‘Keano’ if he continues his progress.Ferguson rates him and he has aready played for the senior team in this seasons league cup.

    Hopefully he’ll get a run out at some point.

    He’ll not be needing his passport for journey from Manchester to London.

  • darth rumsfeld

    surely Dermot would be better finding the irish passport holders in the RoI team

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “A man who has never heard of the ABU”

    Of course I have…I’ve no great love of Manchester United, but I don’t desire to go to their games every week and support whoever they are playing.

    “So I’d feel comfortable and the sad truth is you never know who is paying attention.”

    You must rarely get out in mixed company.

    “If I said the wrong thing, mentioned the wrong places”

    Eh? If you were supporting say Armenia against us and were sat in the Armenian end, why would you blether on about Ardoyne?

    We have a Derry City NISC banner that goes to games. The (Catholic) owner has been threatened…by other (Catholic) Derry City supporters. That’s odd isn’t it?

    “Maybe at Milwall”

    Lots more than that.

    Only last year, Israeli fans attending a match against the ROI in Dublin were abused by so called ROI fans in the environs of the ground…that doesn’t make ROI bad people, just a very small element of hoodlums.

    “I’d want to go to watch football, if the opposition was of sufficient quality. If you get offended with me standing there it’s your business.”

    I wouldn’t be offended. I’m sure sure the away supporters with whom you would be sitting would find it somewhat bizarre that someone from Northern Ireland was supporting someone other than Northern Ireland. I understand why you don’t. I don’t understand why you gurn about it.

    “That’d I’d feel uncomfortable and would doubt I’d be safe. What’s yours?”

    Don’t go then, and stop gurning about it.

    “Now we have Linfield brought up here, can you explain how when I was at uni in the last few years living on the Lisburn Road, I could hear the dulcet strains of “The Billy Boys” coming through my window on Saturday?”

    Certainly.

    A section of Linfield supporters are loyalists who engage in sectarian singing at Linfield games.

    Linfield would not be the only club afflicted with this problem. Two in Glasgow spring to mind immediately.

    “don’t forget the joys of the wind-up”

    Who do you suuport?

    “Ah right. If Windsor Park again becomes a bigotted sectarian hellhole, I am not allowed to “gurn” about it?”

    As you are not a Northern Ireland supporter…in fact, you are ABNI…I am at a lose as to understand what your problem is. Perhaps you can tell me.

    “Given the location of though, we could hazard a guess.”

    Go on then, hazard a guess.

    “So the original point was that every area I’ve seen one in has been in or around a rough loyalist area, therefore there must be some rough loyalists at some games, therefore I would feel neither comfortable or safe if I choose to go.”

    “Every” = two, one of which is Shaftsbury Square.

    Yes, I’m sure there are rough loyalists go to games. There are also thousands of not rough loyalists go to games too.

    I’m quite sure there are some nasty people who frequent various sports grounds throughout the world.

    “Big deal if I cheer the other if I go to the right end of the ground?”

    Not a problem. If you contact the appropriate FA for the away team, they will sort you out with a ticket for the away section. Spain are coming next year, so you might care to contact the Spanish FA nearer the time about tickets. The Spanish supporters there, with whom Northern Ireland fans have a fantastic reputation, might think your a bit of a dick, but that’s up to you.

    “And the point is I’m sure there are some people who have the same issues but would be happy to cheer NI and they are excluded to.”

    The IFA looks forward to hearing from them and will listen carefully as to why they feel excluded.

    What the IFA and Amalgamation Of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs are trying to acheive is that ANYONE who wants to support Northern Ireland can do so in an atmosphere whereby they feel as comfortable as can reasonably be.

    It has got sweet fa to do with those who do not support Northern Ireland, and who actively cheer against them, motivated so to do by solely political reasons.

  • kensei

    “Of course I have…I’ve no great love of Manchester United, but I don’t desire to go to their games every week and support whoever they are playing.”

    I desire to go to watch football. I just don’t want them to win, necessarily.

    “You must rarely get out in mixed company.”

    Man Not Ball. And also, wrong.

    “Eh? If you were supporting say Armenia against us and were sat in the Armenian end, why would you blether on about Ardoyne?”

    I might be talking with a mate as I come into or out of the ground. That’s a very weak point. And I wouldn’t be watching Armenia.

    “We have a Derry City NISC banner that goes to games. The (Catholic) owner has been threatened…by other (Catholic) Derry City supporters. That’s odd isn’t it?”

    Whataboutery. It is and it”s very wrong.

    “Only last year, Israeli fans attending a match against the ROI in Dublin were abused by so called ROI fans in the environs of the ground…that doesn’t make ROI bad people, just a very small element of hoodlums.”

    Whataboutery.
    And in fairness, that was the most disgraceful performance by any team ever I’ve ever seen :p.

    “I wouldn’t be offended. I’m sure sure the away supporters with whom you would be sitting would find it somewhat bizarre that someone from Northern Ireland was supporting someone other than Northern Ireland. I understand why you don’t. I don’t understand why you gurn about it.”

    I’m not gurning.

    “Don’t go then, and stop gurning about it.”

    I don’t and I’m not gurning. I thought I was having a grown up discussion. Borderline ball not man there too.

    “Certainly.

    A section of Linfield supporters are loyalists who engage in sectarian singing at Linfield games.

    Linfield would not be the only club afflicted with this problem. Two in Glasgow spring to mind immediately.”

    Ah, so that makes it ok then. I see.

    “Who do you suport?”

    For my sins, Leeds United.

    “As you are not a Northern Ireland supporter…in fact, you are ABNI…I am at a lose as to understand what your problem is. Perhaps you can tell me.”

    I dislike sectarian bollocks in all it’s forms, and I feel I have a right to say when it isn’t dealt with. You certainly don’t see at ROI grounds.

    I’m not a ABNI anyway, that applies far too much importance.

    “Go on then, hazard a guess.”

    Sandy Row residents?

    “Yes, I’m sure there are rough loyalists go to games. There are also thousands of not rough loyalists go to games too.

    I’m quite sure there are some nasty people who frequent various sports grounds throughout the world.”

    Whataboutery.

    “Not a problem. If you contact the appropriate FA for the away team, they will sort you out with a ticket for the away section. Spain are coming next year, so you might care to contact the Spanish FA nearer the time about tickets. The Spanish supporters there, with whom Northern Ireland fans have a fantastic reputation, might think your a bit of a dick, but that’s up to you.”

    They might, but you never know it might amuse them. And that’s an awful lot of hassle, and Windsor Park is STILL in dangerous area.

    “The IFA looks forward to hearing from them and will listen carefully as to why they feel excluded.

    What the IFA and Amalgamation Of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs are trying to acheive is that ANYONE who wants to support Northern Ireland can do so in an atmosphere whereby they feel as comfortable as can reasonably be.”

    Well personally, it might help to be proactive than reactive, particularly with the reputation. Certainly if it was the ROI I would be pressing for that,

    “It has got sweet fa to do with those who do not support Northern Ireland, and who actively cheer against them, motivated so to do by solely political reasons. ”

    Eh, isn’t all football cheering motivated by political reasons?

    Anyway, weary, and we’re going round in circles.

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “I desire to go to watch football. I just don’t want them to win, necessarily”

    Sorry, who?

    “I might be talking with a mate as I come into or out of the ground. That’s a very weak point. And I wouldn’t be watching Armenia”

    Why is it a weak point, and so what if you were talking to a mate whilst you are coming in and out of the ground?

    What point are you trying, rather unsuccessfully, to make?

    “Whataboutery”

    Eh? You seem to not want to look at a broader picture.

    “Ah, so that makes it ok then. I see”

    Do you think so? I don’t.

    “For my sins, Leeds United”

    No “problems” amongst the fanbase there then?

    Hold on…”whataboutery” cry alert 🙂

    “Sandy Row residents?”

    I don’t know…perhaps some are? Are you suggesting that there is something wrong with all of the residents of Sandy Row?

    “They might, but you never know it might amuse them”

    Yes, I suppose it might.

    “And that’s an awful lot of hassle, and Windsor Park is STILL in dangerous area”

    Not really…to access the South Stand area where you would be with the Spanish fans, you could walk from your Linburn Road flat down the wee mixed street that leds to the Railway Bridge, and hey presto…your in! Easy.

    Loads of sports grounds are in “dangerous” areas.

    “Well personally, it might help to be proactive than reactive, particularly with the reputation.”

    What balderdash…they are proactive in the community. Very proactive. You should look at the IFA website.

    “Eh, isn’t all football cheering motivated by political reasons?”

    I support Northern Ireland because I was born in Northern Ireland..simple really.

    “Anyway, weary, and we’re going round in circles.”

    Ok…goodbye.

  • kensei

    “I don’t know…perhaps some are? Are you suggesting that there is something wrong with all of the residents of Sandy Row?”

    It depends. Have they kicked all the immigrants out yet?

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “It depends”

    On what?

    “Have they kicked all the immigrants out yet?”

    What would that have to do with licensed premises in Shaftsbury Square, which hosts visiters from all over Europe on matchdays?

    Are you going to make a point somtime soon, or are we through?

  • kensei

    “What would that have to do with licensed premises in Shaftsbury Square, which hosts visiters from all over Europe on matchdays?”

    Eh? The question was:

    “Are you suggesting that there is something wrong with all of the residents of Sandy Row?”

    Are you deliberately being obtuse?

  • Realist

    kensei,

    I’m sorry, I must be a bit slow.

    Are you suggesting that those engaged in abusing immigrants in Sandy Row utilise the said licensed premises in Shaftsbury Square, and that all residents of Sany Row abuse immigrants?

    Let’s keep it simple.

    Have a relevant point you wish to make, and if so, what is it?

  • kensei

    “kensei,

    I’m sorry, I must be a bit slow.

    Are you suggesting that those engaged in abusing immigrants in Sandy Row utilise the said licensed premises in Shaftsbury Square, and that all residents of Sany Row abuse immigrants?”

    I’m suggesting there is a strong possibility that some people who did do utilise the premises.

    “Let’s keep it simple.

    Have a relevant point you wish to make, and if so, what is it? ”

    You asked me the question!

  • Realist

    “I’m suggesting there is a strong possibility that some people who did do utilise the premises”

    Oh, right!

    Well, if you have any evidence to back this “strong possibility” up, could I respectfully suggest that you contact Donegall Pass PSNI station and let them know.

    Good man.

    Is that us through now?

  • “”Are you suggesting that there is something wrong with all of the residents of Sandy Row?”

    It depends. Have they kicked all the immigrants out yet?””

    Kensei,
    You being a Leeds fan of all people should be very careful about such sweeping generalisations.

    Leeds over the years have had a reputation for being one of the most xenophobic, racist groups of supporters in England. But am I justified labelling you (or any other Leeds fan) a racist even though I never met you, or know anything about you?

  • Realist

    “Leeds over the years have had a reputation for being one of the most xenophobic, racist groups of supporters in England”

    Did players Woodgate & Bowyer beat that rap?

    Doesn’t make kensei a bad person tho.

  • Mick Fealty

    Paul,

    I think what’s been highlighted here is the degree to which fear dominates people’s perceptions of each other, especially in the kind of working class area that surrounds Windsor Park.

    It’s a fear which is clearly disproportionate to the actual dangers people might almost certainly have run twenty or thirty years ago. But it’s clearly not helped by the kind of ‘separate development’ that has ensued from the traumatic onset of the troubles.

    Just ask anyone with family in or from the St James area about the degree of social mixing that took between them and the lower part of the Donegall Road and the Village pre 1969.

    I accept that perceptions have been accumulated over two generations of legitmately avoiding danger in the Troubles. The underlying cost is the smashing of social bonds and severe want societal trust, which are unlikely to be addressed by further allocations of public grants.

    Indeed some would argue that building trust between communities has a dollar value in itself.

  • Realist

    Mick,

    If I may, I wanted to share this experience of a Linfield supporter in Derry last Monday for the game between the two sides.

    I know you don’t like quoutes from other Boards, but I found this quite heartwarming on The Irish League Forums, and hopefully you allow it to be replicated.

    I have no reason at all to doubt it’s authenticity.

    “I attended last nites game as a guest of several Derry City fans and one in particular. From the minute I was picked up at the Waterside train station yesterday afternoon to just over an hour ago when, due to the strike, I was dropped off at my door by him ‘n ‘is wife ‘n kids, I was treated with the upmost respect and kindness. I was given a full tour ‘n foto-shoot of all the sites in the City, had my fotos taken on Derrys Walls, Free Derry corner, the Fountain and the bogside. Lunch, courtesy of the local ‘tiddly’s’, was supplied ‘n paid for. Pre-match drinks were bought in the City centre AND in a Bogside boozer, I spoke openly ‘n freely on all subjects and this was all in the knowledge of who ‘n what I was. During the match I stood in front of their most voiceferous fans ‘n quite openly cheered the Blues, after the game I was in another Bogside pub where, when returnin the round at the bar, I spoke to locals and fans alike with not the slightest fear or apprehension. Outside I witnessed the considerable efforts bein made by stewards, fans and local people to prevent the vermin from attacking Linfield buses. And, as far as I could make out, it was the peelers who made the decision to ‘detour’ the Bluemen for, as far as I could see these scumbags had been dispersed successfully by the afforementioned groups.
    I’ll finish by adding that this familly then freed up one of their kids beds for me, plied me with more beer ‘n laughs, fed me this morn wi’ a belly-buster of a fry and as I said earlier gave me a lift the whole way to my dooer on the Shankill.
    Absolutely outstandin folk, brilliant time and the result wasn’t too bad either”

  • “I think what’s been highlighted here is the degree to which fear dominates people’s perceptions of each other, especially in the kind of working class area that surrounds Windsor Park.

    It’s a fear which is clearly disproportionate to the actual dangers people might almost certainly have run twenty or thirty years ago.”

    Mick
    I’m not sure if it’s really a fear or simply an accumulation of prejudices about built up about the other side over the last three decades. If I can give a small personal example. I followed my English club team over three or four years and had no qualms about venturing to places like E.London, Liverpool and Leeds. However, I still would never consider venturing to Casement Park or for example Derry City’s,if my team ever decided to play there.
    Why? I know they’re probably not anymore physically dangerous than the other places I’ve been to.

    But something in my subconscious tells me that it’s forbidden territory and I most certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable there. I am 95% sure that if Kensei ventured to a NI international, he would have no problems and no matter that he doesn’t actually support NI, he’d enjoy the game. But I’m telling him one thing, his subconscious is telling him another and in a divided society you’re going to trust your own instincts, not the word of a stranger.

    “But it’s clearly not helped by the kind of ‘separate development’ that has ensued from the traumatic onset of the troubles.”

    Yes and obviously sport is only a symptom not a cause of that separate development. Sport can only reflect what goes on in the wider society and it can only succeed in bringing people together, if they are willing to let it do so. For example,”Football for All” has done good work in making the watching of NI a more enjoyable experience, but in terms of attracting more “non-traditional” non-committed supporters, I have my doubts that it can ever succeed until the deep barriers within our wider society break down.

    But what more can we( I’m speaking here as a NI fan) do in the meantime?

    By doing our best in our own individual, perhaps insignificant way to remove all traces of sectarianism from our own particular sport, are we preparing the grounds for a future generation that will have no problem watching a Linfield match on Saturday and a GAA game on Sunday?

    Or is the present situation as good as it’s going to get, where our maun objective is to keep out of each other’s way in order not to *offend* as we head off in our separate directions to Windsor, Casement Pk or whereever?

    Whatever happens, I agree with you that the throwing of money at the problem only papers over the cracks until the day that we can start to trust each other.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Pope Buckfast XVI:
    “I have found him to be generally well-mannered and he has made me reexamine my own position a few times”

    Praise indeed my friend, for which I am much obliged – my university education must have served me well!

    I have to be honest and say I feel I am personally attacked on Slugger. I believe nationalist posters read the name “Concerned Loyalist” and hold their prejudices against me. Now I am pretty well established on the site I wouldn’t change my name, but if I were starting out again I would perhaps go with the pseudonym “CuChulainn”, as he is an ancient defender of Ulster, whether myth or fact, who both sides can celebrate.

    There are a few unionist posters, such as “Fair Deal”, who regularly contribute, but there is a dearth of loyalist posters, and I think that is down to a lack of exposure to our community, rather than a lack of intelligent, politically apt Loyalists…I’ll try and spread the word!

  • “I have to be honest and say I feel I am personally attacked on Slugger.”

    CL
    I think you’re right there to be honest.
    I don’t agree with a lot of your views but you put them across politely, without resorting to personal abuse. However, I think often you’re *attacked*, not necessarily for what you’re saying, but for the background you come from.

    There is amongst some nationalist/republican commentators here a patronising, sneering attitude towards what they would describe as the unionist “untermenschen”( witness MCT’s snide post about the new Unionist blog).

    Ignore them.
    You (and I and other Unionist/loyalists) have as much right to put our views across as they do and it’s importnat for the sake of free and open debate that you keep on commenting.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Two pro-Concerned Loyalist posts in one day…is this an April Fool’s Day prank 2 days late in coming! lol.

  • IJP

    Interesting coming back to this one.

    Bertie was right, of course. Effectively the deal in 1998 was that Northern Ireland is British, but its people can be either British or Irish. So it is obvious to me that players should be fully entitled to travel on either.

    I hadn’t seen dantheman‘s interesting compromise of an all-island league with still two separate national teams. I know plenty of Unionists who would accept that, and it sounds reasonable to me. But in practice, once you’d started down that route, can you see anyone just “accepting” it?!