Olympic discrimination against NI?

Here’s a knotty identity issue from the DUP. NI hockey players aren’t eligible for the GB Olympic hockey team if they opt to play for Ireland in other competitions it seems, in which England, Scotland and Wales field separate teams. Alastair Ross MLA says NI players weren’t caught in this trap twenty years ago, but the rules have changed, apparently…

“When the Great Britain hockey team was at its most successful, players
from Northern Ireland were always an integral part of the squad, most
notably when local players Stephen Martin and Jimmy Kirkwood won the
Gold medal in the 1988 Olympic Games.

Unfortunately over recent years Ulster born players have been forced to
choose either to play for Ireland or for Team GB. Should a player aim for
the British team they rule themselves out of many of the other top
international competitions where GB do not compete, but rather England,
Scotland and Wales compete individually. It is therefore hard for a player
to play at a high enough level to maintain form…

How did this happen I wonder? Mr Ross goes on:

I have written to the Great Britain Hockey Association, the Irish Hockey
Association, the Sports Minister and the Commonwealth Games Council
for Northern Ireland to investigate the possibility of changing the eligibility
guidelines and also to look at the establishment of a Northern Ireland
hockey team which would be able to compete in the Commonwealth
Games.

But as in so many other sports, would an NI-only team be strong enough to reach the necessary competitive level? Why shouldn’t NI players be free to be selected for Ireland in other competitions, where E,S, W field separate teams, without prejudice to their selection for what is after all I believe, officially if cumbersomely called the GB&NI” Olympic team? But maybe I’ve just walked into one of those minefields…

  • interested

    Brian
    Surely the issue is just to have an NI team to compete in competitions where the other nations of the UK compete seperately – i.e. the Commonweath games etc.

    There isn’t any suggestion of an NI team for the Olympics.

    The GB & NI tag may seem a little ‘cumbersome’ its hard to see why it cant be the “UK” team given that it is afterall the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  • Bigger Picture

    Considering that the majority of hockey played in Ireland is actually played in Northern Ireland, I think they’d do alright.

  • Bloody typical. It’s all well and good giving folk the right to represent Northern Ireland and the CGs and “Ireland” at other times but don’t worry about the flip side.

  • *in the CGs

  • jj

    The suggestion from Alistair Ross seems to be a sensible one – he isnt one of the headbangers who want only Norn Iron rugby and hockey teams, but has simply stated that there should be the option for N.Ireland based players to play for GB and to have a N Ireland team for commonwealth games. Ulster hockey is fairly strong so a NI team in Commonwealth Games could do fairly well.

  • Oilifear

    Just throwing this out for comment, but … what harm? So what if (all) Ireland competes as one and NI players compete as part of an (all) Ireland team? I can see the usual problems of anthems, flags and symbols, but don’t all-Ireland teams usually side-step thse issues … so … without wanting my head bitten off … so what?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    God almighty, the Easter Rising was nothing but bloody trouble. 90 years on and there’s still repercussions from it, especially in sport.

  • I don’t see anything wrong with an NI Hockey team able to compete when E/S/W field their own teams so long as it wouldn’t prevent Ulster-born players from playing for the Ireland team should they so wish. Would be interesting to see whether the players affected really feel this is an issue. Hockey in Ireland has always seemed healthily detached from the politics that sometimes intrudes on other sports here.

  • George

    Bigger Picture,
    Considering that the majority of hockey played in Ireland is actually played in Northern Ireland, I think they’d do alright.

    Why are 15 out of the 25 members of the men’s senior team from the Irish Republic then?

    Maybe you think more hockey is played up north only because you have never been to the hockey strongholds in the Republic?

    Either that or they play it more up north as you claim but are just crap. Which is it?

  • itsthemmunsitellyou

    Thread title

    “…discrimination against NI?”

    Northern Contributor

    “Considering that the majority of hockey played in Ireland is actually played in Northern Ireland, I think they’d do alright.”

    Southern Contributor

    “Why are 15 out of the 25 members of the men’s senior team from the Irish Republic then?”

    Men’s all-Ireland championship winners

    Ulster 1993 Lisnagarvey
    Ulster 1994 Lisnagarvey
    Leinster 1995 Pembroke Wanderers
    Ulster 1996 Lisnagarvey
    Ulster 1997 Instonians
    Ulster 1998 Instonians
    Ulster 1999 Instonians
    Leinster 2000 Glenanne
    Leinster 2001 Pembroke Wanderers
    Munster 2002 Cork Harlequins
    Munster 2003 Cork Church of Ireland
    Ulster 2004 Instonians
    Ulster 2005 Lisnagarvey
    Leinster 2006 Pembroke Wanderers
    Leinster 2007 Pembroke Wanderers

    8 out of 15 years won by Ulster teams yet we only get 40% representation!

    Leinster mafia!

  • franco

    i know of many players who would relish the opportunity to play for northern ireland in the commonwealth games, and the same players have no political axe to bear and are happy to play for ireland in other comps too. i believe that there have been approaches made to some of the current irish team to see if they would instead commit to great britain in time for 2012 in london.

  • facts

    …and in terms of Irish Senior Cup wins:-
    1988 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    1989 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    1990 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    1991 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    1992 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    1993 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    1994 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    1995 Instonians – Ulster
    1996 Avoca – Leinster
    1997 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    1998 Instonians – Ulster
    1999 Cork Church of Ireland – Munster
    2000 Pembroke Wanderers – Leinster
    2001 Glenanne – Leinster
    2002 Instonians – Ulster
    2003 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    2004 Instonians – Ulster
    2005 Lisnagarvey – Ulster
    2006 Cork Harlequins – Munster
    2007 Glenanne – Munster

  • “So what if (all) Ireland competes as one and NI players compete as part of an (all) Ireland team?”

    Surely the problem has been outlined in the question. When the Olympic Games are played Northern Irish players are prevented from representing the UK team.

  • *Post as opposed to question.

  • There is a particular sort of rule maker who just loves identifying spurious “abuse” like people being eligible for more than one team. Why not just allow a bit of flexibility?

  • Dec

    Surely the problem has been outlined in the question. When the Olympic Games are played Northern Irish players are prevented from representing the UK team.

    Only if they’ve previously played for Ireland in other competitions in which England, Scotland and Wales field separate teams.

    Given your opposition to Irish nationals playing for the ROI football team your thoughts on this ‘problem’ should be particularly priceless.

  • Bigger Picture

    George

    No need to bite my head off. I think NI are just as good in terms of their achievements when compared to the rest of Ireland. The facts above show that. My point simply was, in response to how would an NI team get on at the commonwealth games, they’d do alright and by no means disgrace themselves.

    It seems sensible in the type of situation outlined by Mr Ross that an NI team should be formed when E,S+W also compete seperatley.

  • “Given your opposition to Irish nationals playing for the ROI football team your thoughts on this ‘problem’ should be particularly priceless.”

    I have no objection to people from the Republic of Ireland playing for the Republic of Ireland or indeed Republic of Ireland citizens playing for the Republic of Ireland if they meet residency criteria. In this case it seems United Kingdom citizens who are permanently resident in the UK, indeed who were born in this part of the UK, are prevented from playing for the UK team.

  • “Only if they’ve previously played for Ireland in other competitions in which England, Scotland and Wales field separate teams.”

    You do understand, I assume, that playing for Ireland is not analogous to representing ROI? You do understand that the Ireland hockey team, rugby team etc. represent both states on this island?

  • pith

    How refreshing to see an MLA to talk sensibly on a subject he obviously knows something about.

  • Bigger Picture

    Pith

    I think he played for Lisnagarvey

  • shock hock

    Personally, I blame Darron Gibson.

  • Dec

    In this case it seems United Kingdom citizens who are permanently resident in the UK, indeed who were born in this part of the UK, are prevented from playing for the UK team.

    Actually, its the GB & NI team. Though I appreciate all the references to residency lest you be accused of being a hypocritical buffoon.

    You do understand, I assume, that playing for Ireland is not analogous to representing ROI? You do understand that the Ireland hockey team, rugby team etc. represent both states on this island?

    Next time I won’t bother informing you of the actual ruling if that’s your attitude.

  • Diluted Orange

    Pith

    [i]”I think he played for Lisnagarvey”[/i]

    I can confirm he did, as did I.

    Personally, I don’t see what the problem was with the old rule – where you could play hockey for both Ireland and/or the GB team. Jimmy Kirkwood did both, I think he won well over 100 Irish senior caps, as did many, many others. The current set-up effectively denies NI born players of a chance of playing in the Olympics, the pinnacle for any hockey player as the Irish team has never qualified, whilst the British team does so on a regular basis.

  • Handbags

    Next thing you know, hockey players will be campaigning for the right to get married.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    As he is now Minister for Sport, perhaps Greg Campbell can see about establishing an NI hockey team. Would make perfect sense.

  • EWI

    Unfortunately over recent years Ulster born players have been forced to choose either to play for Ireland or for Team GB.

    Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan-born hockey players can play for “Team GB”? Colour me surprised.

  • janeymac

    Chekov
    “You do understand, I assume, that playing for Ireland is not analogous to representing ROI? You do understand that the Ireland hockey team, rugby team etc. represent both states on this island?”

    It is if you are competing in the Olympics – the only state represented is Ireland (the one with a functioning Government, Tri-colour & AnaB as its national anthem).

  • willowfield

    OILIFEAR

    Just throwing this out for comment, but … what harm? So what if (all) Ireland competes as one and NI players compete as part of an (all) Ireland team? I can see the usual problems of anthems, flags and symbols, but don’t all-Ireland teams usually side-step thse issues … so … without wanting my head bitten off … so what?

    Ordinarily, there isn’t a problem, but in the Olympics, the Irish hockey team is representing only the Republic of Ireland: it is not representing the whole of Ireland. The Southern flag and anthem are used, etc.

    It is a disgrace that NI players are forced to represent the Republic at the Olympics instead of their own country.

  • “It is if you are competing in the Olympics – the only state represented is Ireland (the one with a functioning Government, Tri-colour & AnaB as its national anthem).”

    The state represented in the Olympics is the Republic of Ireland and that is exactly why it is not appropriate to insist those who have played for the Ireland team in other competitions play for the Republic of Ireland in the Olympics. Christ, that is the entire essence of the post in the first place.

  • Pointer

    Chekov are you saying that people in the six counties who consider themselves Irish should not be allowed play for the Republic of Ireland Soccer team ?

    If so you must not support the Good Friday Agreement, where in international law a person from the six counties of Ireland can be British or Irish or indeed both.

    Now I am jumping the gun here a bit but I am going to guess that you also hate the fact that lads and ladies from the six counties also partake in championship GAA in the All Ireland series. They stand for AnB, and the Tri Colour is flown, this is terrible after all they are British and they are looking to a strange country.

    Has 30 years of trouble not taught you antyhing ?

  • Bemused

    Ah yes – here we go again. The little-englander half-wits of unionism get their metaphorical knickers in a twist again at yet another example of ‘their’ country/nation/kingdom/empire treating them with complete ingorant disinterest. Wake up and smell the coffee lads – the reason they blither-on about ‘Team GB’ (rather than Team GB and NI) and ‘Britain’ (rather than Britain and Northern Ireland) – is because as far as the vast, over-whelming majority of British people are concerned, sunny little ‘Ulster’ has precisely nothing to do with them and is in fact (funny this) part of Ireland.

  • “Has 30 years of trouble not taught you antyhing?”

    Yes. To ignore an imbecilic post.

  • willowfield

    Chekov are you saying that people in the six counties who consider themselves Irish should not be allowed play for the Republic of Ireland Soccer team ?

    Jesus H.

    Being (or considering yourself) Irish and being from Southern Ireland are not the same thing!

  • Dec

    WF

    You’ve incorrectly capitalised the ‘s’ in ‘southern’ in the last sentence. Capitalisation in that context would only make sense if there was a political entity of that name. I’ve seen how similar errors by others has upset you in the past.

  • “I’ve seen how similar errors by others has upset you in the past.”

    I’ve seen how similar errors by others HAVE upset you in the past.

  • willowfield

    Not at all, Dec – the “s” is deliberately capitalised as I am using the term as a proper name.

  • Dec

    Not at all, Dec – the “s” is deliberately capitalised as I am using the term as a proper name.

    WF

    I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with mein my offices…

  • willowfield

    I’m not a homophobe, so I do not find your attempt at suggesting that I’m a homosexual to be offensive.

    Nonetheless, you’d do well to follow the “ball not man” rule.

    Have you anything of note to contribute to the discussion?

  • Pointer

    Willow tell that to the 49 % Nationalists and Republicans living in the six counties.

  • Steve

    Willowfield

    I think you entireluy missed dec’s wee joke.

    Either that or I did

    He wasn’t calling you a homo he was implying that he believes you have a treatable condition

    I think he’s wrong, your condition is untreatable and reequires close supervision

  • willowfield

    POINTER

    Willow tell that to the 49 % Nationalists and Republicans living in the six counties.

    Do these “49%” of people think they’re from the South?

    STEVE

    I think you entireluy missed dec’s wee joke.
    Either that or I did He wasn’t calling you a homo he was implying that he believes you have a treatable condition

    Seemed to me like he was referencing Iris Robinson’s advice to gays.

  • Dec

    I’m not a homophobe, so I do not find your attempt at suggesting that I’m a homosexual to be offensive.

    WF

    Clearly humour is wasted on you, yet perversely this reaction was comical.

  • willowfield

    You’re a very funny man, Dec.

  • Steve

    dec

    since his specialty is pedantry I don’t think he quite makes the turn. You should have been a lot more specific for him to get it but then would have ruined the subtelty of the joke which I must commend you on

  • Ireland is not Pakistan or India, yet. As in England, hockey is mostly a (terribly vulgar) woman’s game. Most men play other sports, leaving hockey and cricket to the w**king fraternity.

  • Steve

    Dave O’Connell

    there’s little doubt the way europeans play the game its best suited for women. Come over to Canada and try it where it was invented and perfected.

    Better bring a baggy to carry your teeth home in

    as the song goes

    “real fast and tough is the only sure way to the big leagues”: Life is a highway, Tom Cochrane