Northern Ireland Sports Minister at Páirc Esler

He may be a young-Earther, but the DUP’s Edwin Poots has just been welcomed by GAA president Nickey Brennan at Páirc Esler, Newry, to watch the McKenna Cup game between Down and Donegal in his official capacity as Northern Ireland Sports Minister. Adds Presumably the MLA for Lagan Valley cheered when Down crushed Donegal..

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  • Which unfortunate civil servant/aide had to give Poots a crash-course on the rules?

    [Actually, who am I to talk? My son-in-law took me to Yankee Stadium — 106 in the bleachers — Yankees beat Angels by some margin — and I’m still no wiser.]

  • Mark McGregor

    Strange times. A DUP Minister respecting the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann in County Down. Did he stand?

  • URQUHART

    I hope it was better than that shite at Casement Park.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ah no. Hammered. That was always a needle fixture when I was growing up. Too often went the same way when down had that triple All Ireland team.

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    How dare you talk sport on a GAA blog!

    ..but try being stuffed by a bunch of students and consider the lot of an Antrim man.

  • RepublicanStones

    An Dún 5-14 agus Tír Chonaill 0-13….gabh mo leithscéal Mick !

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Why would his being a Lagan Valley MLA make him happy that Down beat Donegal? LV is in Lisburn, County Antrim. I know you have been away a while Mick but do keep up.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    [keep it civil – edited moderator] Of course Poots is ‘exceptionally positive’ towards the GAA when the knuckleheads at the top of the organisatoin are signing the rest of us up to the Maze without asking members how they feel about it.

  • Brendan: A significant part of the Lagan Valley constituency is in County Down.

  • Rory

    How perfectly ridiculous that someone should consider that the appearance or otherwise of some doofus or other at a football match should be more important than that the mighty Down won the match.

    There’s no accountin’ for folk.

  • Mick Fealty

    Quite right Tim. Brendan, I was crying into my own cups, no one else’s. Born in Antrim. Reared in Down. But a Donegal man till the end.

  • USA

    Maybe i’m missing the subtle sub plot here, but I thought this was a positive move by Poots and the GAA. More of the same. Both come out looking good so far. The BBC report quoted the GAA extensively and Brennan was full of praise for Poots, but no statement from Poots himself?

  • ozy

    That’s good to see, Poots does seem to be taking his cross-community responsibilities as a Minister seriously.

    UUP beat him to it on this one though albeit by just a few weeks
    – John McCallister MLA and Basil McCrea MLA went along to the Down club finals a few weeks ago, saw a good article in the Irish News about it (and a very positive editorial too)

    John even contributed a thoughtful piece to the local GAA yearbook about the experience – good on them, and good on Down GAA for inviting them.

    I think its little things like this that will end up making the difference – most valid criticism of ‘peace process tm’ is that whilst we have the big guys sitting around the same cabinet table at last, its not reflected on the ground. Things like this go some little way towards addressing that.

    “One small step” and all that…

  • Danny O’Connor

    As a member I would welcome anybody to a match.If we are serious about bringing about a true sense of mutual respect in this part of the world ,we all have a duty to take steps outside our own personal comfort zones.Fair play to Edwin Poots for making the gesture.

  • Lenny

    “Strange times. A DUP Minister respecting the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann in County Down. Did he stand? “
    Mark McGregor

    According to Morning Ireland, Poots arrived ten minutes late so he wouldn’t have to stand for the national anthem.

  • willowfield

    It really is incredible that they actually play the Southern anthem before every game. Are they really that insecure?

    Do they play it before every club game as well?

    Was the Southern flag flying at the match?

  • An Dúnach Shona

    “It really is incredible that they actually play the Southern anthem before every game. Are they really that insecure?

    Do they play it before every club game as well?”

    No, only at inter-county fixtures.

    Though I recall a Fermanagh v Armagh hurling league game where they dispensed with the formalities.

  • Langer Dan

    Do the unioists still play the English anthem in the northeast of Ireland?

  • agh

    ozy wrote:
    ‘I think its little things like this that will end up making the difference – most valid criticism of ‘peace process tm’ is that whilst we have the big guys sitting around the same cabinet table at last, its not reflected on the ground. Things like this go some little way towards addressing that. ‘

    whole-heartedly agree. next step, Big Ian and Wee Marty dressed as lepracauns on St Paddies day, and then with their bowler hats on the 12th!!

    On a serious note, these are huge steps foward. Well done Poots and the GAA.

  • Ms Wiz

    I don’t follow the GAA but I do like catching it on tv from time to time. But to echo Willowfield’s point, why is the Irish national anthem played before games such as these? Indeed, why is any anthem played? Considering the deeply divided nature of NI is there really any need for it or are they simply comfortable in the knowledge that no-one in attendance will be offended.

  • gaelgannaire

    At first glance this seems like a positive step but when one considers that the GAA is required by its own constitution to promote the interests of the Irish language, is it wise to give Poots such positive publicity?

    He has stopped the Irish broadcasting fund citing poverity, despite returning 10 million or 1/3 of his budget, he refuses to meet Irish language groups, he has adversly affected the funds going to Foras na Gaeilge and of course has stopped the Irish language Act. Very successful for his point of view of course.

    Of course the GAA is protecting its own interests but they should think deeply about where Poot’s anti-Gaelic agenda will move once he has satisfied himself with the language.

    I for one was always glad to see the tricolor flying at the GAA ground, a reminder that a least one all-Ireland organisation valued northern nationalists as a part of the Irish nation.

  • Pure window dressing on the part of Poots. When he’s at his desk he’s busy axing the Irish Language Broadcast Fund, the same fund which part financed Kings, an Irish language film which has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Film in the ‘Foreign’ Language Catergory at the Awards. It’s on the long list currently and next week the announcement will be made as to the short list.

    His attendance at a GAA match cuts no ice with Irish language supporters who have watched him also halt the Irish Language Act and it ill behoves the GAA to invite a politician who has inflicted such damage on An Ghaeilge, which the GAA is supposed to promote.

    Now questions are being asked by Irish National Caucus President, Sean McManus on Capitol Hill: Here’s the statement he issued yesterday and which is featured in today’s edition of Lá Nua (www.nuacht.com).

    Disrespect for Irish Language Harms Peace-Process

    CAPITOL HILL. Wednesday, January 16, 2007 — The US Congress is being told that disrespect for the Irish Language is harming the Irish peace-process and that the US must not in anyway subsidize that disrespect.

    The Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus has written to key Members of Congress to take action to ensure that the United States does not in anyway “ subsidize anti-Irish language” policies.

    “ Just as we spearheaded a very successful campaign, the Mac Bride Principles, to ensure that US dollars would not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination, Irish-Americans must now take a stand against any and all discrimination against the ancient and beautiful Irish language”, said Caucus president, Fr. Sean Mc Manus.” “Members of Congress and the US. Government must express concern that Minister for Culture, Edwin Poots, seems to be determined to institutionalize anti-Irish-language policies”, Fr. Mc Manus explained. “ Minister Poots of the DUP has sabotaged the Irish Language Act, agreed to by the St. Andrew’s Agreement, and he has killed funding for the Irish Language broadcast sector by removing it from his budget”.

    Fr. Mc Manus proceeded to point out that all of this appears to conflict with the very positive message that was given by the recent joint – visit to Washington by Dr. Paisley and Martin Mc Guinness: “ Mr. Poots is undercutting the positive image Dr. Paisley is trying to create in Washington both as First Minister and Leader of the DUP. How can Dr. Paisley convince Washington that the bad old days of anti-Catholic bigotry are over if one of his own Ministers is showing contempt for the Irish language? Surely that is no way to prepare for the upcoming economic conference in Belfast that Americans are so strongly supporting?”

  • willowfield

    I for one was always glad to see the tricolor [sic] flying at the GAA ground, a reminder that a least one all-Ireland organisation valued northern nationalists as a part of the Irish nation.

    Links in nicely with the “nationalist myths” thread … “The GAA is non-political and non-sectarian”.

  • Oiliféar

    Great stuff, alright. Makes things real and normal. Go raibh maith agat, a hEdwin. B’fhéidir go cloisfeadh muid an cúpla focail roimh i bhfad?

    On the points raised about flags and anthems, I agree. It would seem like overkill – sure, for the all-Ireland semis and finals, but EVERY inter-county game? (Of course, better again might be an agreed all-Ireland flag – and anthem? – if it would really be inviting to those marginalised by use of the South’s.)

    Finally, Pete, could we please do without the constant hark to Poots being a “young Earther” at every mention of his name. Unless it’s relevant to his brief as Culture – not Science or Education – minister, it really doesn’t matter and is not helpful to anyone. There are times when it will be relevant, such as the Giant’s Causeway’s interpretative centre, but in this instance it’s not. It serves only to demean someone who, on the basis of this story alone, seems to be doing a good job.

  • OC – surely there’s a difference between creating “anti-Irish language” policies and not implementing “pro-Irish language” policies. Doesn’t have quite the same dramatic impact or lend itself so well to abject MOPEry though.

  • willowfield

    Olifear

    (Of course, better again might be an agreed all-Ireland flag – and anthem? – if it would really be inviting to those marginalised by use of the South’s.)

    Well said.

  • Thanks Beano for underlining once again the insecurity and paranoia of some unionists when faced with a vibrant living native culture which they don’t have the foggiest idea about. In this case implementing anti Irish language policies and not supporting pro Irish language policies has the same effect – making Northern Ireland a cold house for the Irish language and generally displaying Northern Ireland as a bastion of intolerance and b***try to the world still.

    Carry on, maestro….

  • willowfield

    OC

    It does little for your case to be quoting figures with so little credibility as Father Sean McManus. In his world, the absence of an “Irish Language Act” is more concerning than the organised cover-up of a crime committed in broad daylight and the shielding of murderers from justice. His support for the PIRA – in contravention of his Church’s own teaching – makes him as credible as his “loyalist” counterpart “Pastor” Clifford Peeples.

    Interventions from the likes of McManus only serve to reinforce the perception of the Gaelic language campaign as part of a highly-political and sectarian agenda.

  • lib2016

    willowfield,

    One does realise that unionism’s current project is to claim a moral equivalence between Irish Unionism and Irish Republicanism but to pretend that Peebles has the same credibility or influence as McManus is just foolish.

    Whether one agrees with them or not, and I don’t particularly agree with either of them, McManus has a certain credibility in the states.

  • willowfield

    … to pretend that Peebles [sic] has the same credibility or influence as McManus is just foolish.

    I never claimed Peeoples has “the same credibility or influence” as McManus: merely that the two are as credible as each other. I am aware that McManus does exert influence on the gullible US population, and many such gullible people may find him credible: but not those of us who actually live here in Ireland.

  • Oiliféar

    beano, there has been little in the way of “anti-Irish language” policies ever – I’m talking since 1169. The problem for Gaelic (and Welsh, and Scots) is that since the Battle of Kinsale there was little by way of “pro-Irish language” policies until the establishment of the Gaelic League. This caused the slow withering of the language.

    Since then, these “pro-Irish language” policies have been largely successful, despite what anyone says – remember this is the first time that anyone, anywhere had ever tried to do this kind of thing. Mistakes have been made, but we have now the Welsh and Scots to learn from also (as well as the Manx – and the Channel Islanders to an extent also).

    The “life support” at least worked in it halted the withering. What’s needed are for heads to get together on this. It would be appreciated if Northern Ireland would involve itself in this project too. Remember that this isn’t just a nationalist project, it started in Scotland and Wales, we picked it up from them. The Republic floundered alone at it for a long enough time. Fresh blood, imagination and the value of it’s experience are what Northern Ireland can bring to the table and it’s a shame to see the North walk away from that opportunity to prove itself.

  • Lenny

    “It really is incredible that they actually play the Southern anthem before every game. Are they really that insecure?
    Do they play it before every club game as well?
    Was the Southern flag flying at the match? ”

    Willow old chap,

    I’m sure you know that there is no “southern anthem” or “southern flag” at least not to my knowledge. Amhrán na bhFiann and the tricolour are the anthem and flag of the majority of the people on the island of Ireland but you know that already.

    And what’s sectarian about a flag that embraces both traditions in Ireland

  • lib2016

    willowfield,

    It took me some time to puzzle it out but thank you for acknowledging that Peebles and McManus don’t have the same credibility. 😉

  • willowfield

    Lenny

    I’m sure you know that there is no “southern anthem” or “southern flag” at least not to my knowledge. Amhrán na bhFiann and the tricolour are the anthem and flag of the majority of the people on the island of Ireland but you know that already.

    No: they’re the flag and anthem respectively of Southern Ireland.

    And what’s sectarian about a flag that embraces both traditions in Ireland

    It may claim to embrace both traditions, but it is merely a nationalist symbol.

  • gaelgannaire

    Oilifear,

    “beano, there has been little in the way of “anti-Irish language” policies ever”

    Lets see, banned from road signage, banned from street signage, banned from courts, Gaelic names not registerable, banned from the education system, banned from council chambers, banned from parliaments, banned from the airwaves, banned from being spoken …

    Seriously, Oilifear what more do you want.

  • mustard

    “And what’s sectarian about a flag that embraces both traditions in Ireland”

    The separation of the Green and Orange with a White peace line. The flag should be homogenised to a nice mustard.

    Anyone know the difference between a “rights based approach” and a “language scheme”? In Mr Poots’ statement he seemed to argue that that the Welsh Language Act is more expensive to administer than the regime in the Republic (with reference to the cost of parliamentary translations). Is that because the Welsh Language Act is “rights based”?

    http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/minister_s_statement.pdf

  • noirishontv

    I’m sure Poots was happy enough to attend.

    During the boring bits he could just amuse himself with the thoughts that all those people being so terribly nice to him for coming to some pointless bog-ball game can’t exactly be too happy that he’s scrapped any proposals for an Irish Language Act and is cutting the Irish Language Broadcast fund.

    Not bad work to mull over at a GAA game I suppose!

  • noirishontv

    I suppose at the game too he could have had a laugh at Gerry Adams anger that moving the Community Festivals Fund to local Government will see the West Belfast Festival lose a huge chunk of its funding….. presumably to be re-allocated by unionist councils to something more worthwhile.

  • Trinity pink

    gaelgannaire might query whether all the “banning” was one way.

    Catholic Emancipation happened in the 1820s. Archbishop McQuaid and his like (not forgetting their baleful influence on the ’37 Constitution) didn’t get round to repaying the compliment until a century and a half later.

  • mustard

    Further to Post 13,

    I suppose that, as the promotion of Irish has been taken as a political given in the Republic, the idea of protecting it as part of the protection of “minority rights” never made sense but is it fair or consistent to demand that Mr Poots copy Welsh legislation rather than Irish?

    http://www.pobail.ie/en/IrishLanguage/OfficialLanguagesAct2003/

  • mustard

    Oops. That should have been further to post 11.

  • One thing Sean Mac Manus never did is go around with grenades in his pocket to attack people. So Willowfield’s ‘straw man’ comparison is really just an insidious and slanderous attack on Fr. McManus. I’m surprised that the moderators haven’t struck it out but then again maybe I’m not given the partisan nature of Slugger.

    perhaps W’s beef with Sean McManus is with the effective campaign he ran wrt the McBride Principles which starved NI of US investment for years because of anti Catholic workplace practices in NI companies.

    he should desist from creating false comparisons between people which don’t exist. Clifford Peeples was convicted of a terrorist crime – Sean McManus was never even accused. So let’s have a debate based on facts rather than on vile and slanderous innuendo. Or is that too much to ask?

    How does it look in the US for a Culture Minister to be actively attacking the native culture of the land in which he lives? As far as Sean McManus, an influential figure in Irish America, is concerned, not good.

    Interestingly enough, when Ian Paisley was over in Washington recently, who should he seek out to meet but Sean McManus. If W wants to check this out, he should see the front page of the Lá Nua website which features a photo of the two men together….

    Perhaps that might answer his question about Sean McManus’ credibility….

  • gaelgannaire

    Trinty Pink,

    I honestly have no idea what you are talking about but to my knowledge the Catholic church have never banned the use of the English language and in fact have been consistently key to its promotion in Ireland.

  • Aaron S

    Turning up ten minutes late to miss the anthem? Does Poots think he’s a Dub?

  • willowfield

    MUSTARD
    Anyone know the difference between a “rights based approach” and a “language scheme”? In Mr Poots’ statement he seemed to argue that that the Welsh Language Act is more expensive to administer than the regime in the Republic (with reference to the cost of parliamentary translations). Is that because the Welsh Language Act is “rights based”?

    I think a “rights-based approach” would create a (presumably universal) right to use Gaelic and would therefore be more far-reaching than a “language scheme approach”, under which each public authority would be obliged – under the guidance and oversight of a “language commissioner” – to set out what measures it would take to promote Gaelic. The latter approach would not, therefore, be a blanket approach, as it may be felt more appropriate for, say, the Arts Council or the education and library boards to take a different and more pro-active approach to promoting Gaelic than, say, the Fisheries Conservancy Board or the British Wool Marketing Board. It may also be inappropriate for some authorities to have a language scheme at all.

    Actually, the “language scheme approach” would probably be more effective than simply creating a right to use Gaelic, since the language is presumably more likely to thrive if public authorities are encouraged to adopt creative promotion policies than simply obliged to reply to letters received in Gaelic or to have a Gaelic language answering machine.

    I think the Welsh Language Act is the “language scheme approach”, although they may have universal rights there, too: they certainly have the right to speak Welsh in court.

    In Scotland, they have a “language scheme approach”, but it is minimalist and only certain public authorities are covered.

  • willowfield

    OC

    One thing Sean Mac Manus never did is go around with grenades in his pocket to attack people.

    Is giving public moral support to those who carried around (and actually used to terrible effect) much more lethal weapons not similarly to be condemned?

    I think it is. Maybe OC doesn’t.

  • It doesn’t Willowfield. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. After all for many years, politicians on Capitol Hill supported the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan, fighting against the Russian occupiers (see Charlie Wilson’s War).

    However Peeples is a convicted terrorist and his role as ‘pastor’ is a pretence. Sean McManus has never been accused, charged or convicted of any offence. So unless you want Slugger to be closed down as a result of your libellous comments, you will withdraw them immediately.

  • Spannerhead

    Willowfield, do you touch yourself in the evenings to a statue to all things english while alone in your bedroom.

  • mustard

    “Willowfield, do you touch yourself in the evenings to a statue to all things english while alone in your bedroom.”

    Prods don’t go in for religious idolatry.

    They just use their imagination.

    And chance we could talk about something in Mr Poots’ remit?

  • Mick Fealty

    Another sports thread, another sectarian bunfight. I hate to distrupt the genuine conversation that’s going on here, but we’ve received a complaint about some aspects of it so I am going to take it offline whilst we look at it carefully. If I get around to it, we’ll try to get it back up as quickly as possible.

    Just remember, if you stick the play the ball and not the man this kind of thing generally can’t happen (no prizes for proving me wrong on that btw)…

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    I’ve re-opened the thread for comments.

    And as long as the commenters follow the commenting policy and keep it civil it will remain open.

    Perhaps a re-focussing on the actual topic would be advisable.

  • flaminglip

    “It really is incredible that they actually play the Southern anthem before every game. Are they really that insecure?”

    Is this in reference only to the playing of the anthem when a GAA game takes place in Northern Ireland? If so, why would it make people in the North any less secure than those who attend GAA games in the Republic? I can’t see any difference, unless you take a completely unrealistic, snarky view that nationalists in the north should play God Save The Queen because they’re as British as the Tory party.

  • RepublicanStones

    It really is incredible that they actually play the Southern anthem before every game. Are they really that insecure? – willowfield

    its the irish anthem and flag, no amount of unionist filibustering will ever change that. whats insecure about playing your own national anthem. i think there is a community who is slightly more insecure so need to march in pumpkin scarves and funny hats where they ain’t wanted.

  • Danny

    willowfield,

    What’s “Southern Ireland”? Having a dig, are we?