Paddy Kielty is the star in the latest showing of the Marie Jones play ‘A Night in November.’ The setting for the play is the infamous World Cup qualifier between the two Irelands, played at Windsor Park in November 1993. Kielty’s own observations about how the main theme of the play remains relevant today have been attacked by the (unduly sensitive?) chairperson of the Amalgamation of NI Supporters, Gary McAllister, who in a moment of petulance remarked, “I think you’ll struggle to find any Northern Ireland supporter who would pay to watch that play.”Kielty pondered two questions which prompted the attack from Gary McAllister. Firstly, he wondered whether or not the Republic of Ireland team would be applauded onto a Windsor Park field today, even 14 years after the original match; and secondly, he wondered whether catholics/ nationalists would support the Northern team in such a match or the Republic, even though they were born in the north.
Innocuous enough questions, if you ask me.
Kielty’s own conclusion, that people are still entrenched over their soccer allegiances due to the sport’s working class roots here, is hardly controversial. But that, in itself, doesn’t resolve the queries he raises, which, as we have discussed here before, have more to do with the willingness- or otherwise- to afford equal respect to the national identities of the two communities residing in the north of Ireland.