Petition the Prime Minister

More on Shilliday’s Law which I take it states: ” Northern Ireland is there but you can’t find us”. That master of “Britishness”, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland no less, is the latest to prove he doesn’t quite understand the composition of the legal State. With the best of intentions, a fired-up Gordon Brown has revealed he’s cleared the ground with FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter for a “Great Britain” team to enter the 2012 Olympics:. ( Has he really now? We shall see!)

From the BBC story:

Mr Brown also stated his desire to see a Great British football team at the 2012 Olympics.

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland football bodies have opposed any such move in case it affects their status within governing body Fifa.
Gordon Brown quotes:
“I talked to Mr Blatter about how we could find a solution to this and I am confident Fifa will give the assurances that the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Associations want.

“I am also confident that when the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland know that matches will be taking place outside London, they will approve of this idea. ( Where? At least one of them in an NI stadium perhaps?)

“We all want to see a Great Britain football team. It’s the right thing to do to have a successful Olympics.”

He added that he has spoken to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a fellow Scot, about the possibility of leading a GB football team”.

A predictably sour response came from the SNP, according to a story headlined in the Sunday Herald:

Brown ‘determined’ to have UK football team at 2012 Games

The SNP said the comments were a “spectacular own goal” for Mr Brown. An SFA spokesman said: “Gordon Smith the SFA’s chief executive has spoken to the Prime Minister about Team GB, but we are unlikely to alter our position and remain opposed to the concept of a Great Britain football team.”

Politicians of all hues in GB may be confused about the name of the State but their confusion is likely to be as nothing compare to the politics of football.
Unionists and nationalists will probably agree on one thing; that however loudly Northern Ireland Union supporters (wider than “unionists”) cry: “Don’t forget us,” shared institutions and fellow citizens across the water will do precisely that: forget them, or dismiss them with a cloud of verbiage like the BOA’s..

Gordon Brown is taking responsibility for a new initiative. Let’s hold him to account.

If people want to run a campaign for “Team UK 2012”, I suggest they start with the No 10 website.

First, put the questions in his “Ask the PM” slot in “the Downing St channel” on YouTube : “How can you have a Great Britain football team which includes Northern Ireland? Would you therefore support changing the name to Team UK?”

Next, make the case in one of Downing St’s little democratic initiatives, the E-Petitions site which re-opens again on Monday week, 1st September. The press keep a close watch on this.

More widely, there’s a great non-party campaign here for someone to run to include all NI sport not affiliated to the Irish team. And bluntly, that must include a lot of Catholics. Any takers?

  • Phil

    Can this idiot not let a day pass without spouting his British nationalist shit? As I said on an earlier post, why must other sports fall into line with the olympics? It should be the other way around and the olympic team which changes to reflect the cultural and (since devolution) political reality of sport in the UK. What is he doing commenting on sport anyway? His government should only have an influence on sport in England and he was elected by how many English people?

  • Secret Non Admirer

    He comments on sport to take our minds off other matters such as missing discs with the information on 25 million people etc.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    FFS. Hasn’t this been well enough aired?

    “Next, make the case in one of Downing St’s little democratic initiatives, the E-Petitions site which re-opens again on Monday week, 1st September. The press keep a close watch on this.”

    Yep, an online petition – that’ll learn ’em.

  • cynic

    Dear Gordon

    Displacement therapy is a well known medical phenomenon but I am afraid that we expect a little more of you dearie. We have a few teensie problems to sort out before we get all het up about some men kicking a pigs bladder around a piece of grass. For example:-

    * filthy hospitals
    * families who can’t make ends meet because of soaring inflation
    * being involved simultaneously in two wars one of which we aren’t exactly sure what our troops are doing other than protecting themselves now and the other where they are woefully undermanned and ill equipped
    * an economy in recession
    * a newly nationaised bank that is haemorraging money with no end in sight
    * vicious infighting in your own cabinet of the exhausted and no-hopers as Ministers plot to succeed you
    * a housing crisis made worse by your vacillation in telling the Chancellor what he is allowed to do
    * a huge tax burden to fund a bloated public sector

    You might consider being here to sort these out instead of grandstanding it in China hoping that some gold may rub off on you. It won’t. We all know that your government is made of tarnished base metal.

    So end this nonsense and give us an election.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland football bodies have opposed any such move in case it affects their status within governing body Fifa.”

    I thought Unionists would be delighted with a UK/GB soccer team!

    Maybe NI Unionists should get a petition going to support their Prime Minister’s Brown proposal!

  • Chris Donnelly

    “…there’s a great non-party campaign here for someone to run to include all NI sport not affiliated to the Irish team. And bluntly, that must include a lot of Catholics.”

    Really, Brian? And how, exactly, do you reach that conclusion?

    I think if you look at the Olympic competitiors from the north in Beijing, the majority represented Ireland, and that would appear to include athletes from both ‘traditions.’

    I’ve already stated my belief that people from the north should be entitled to represent whichever national side at the Olympics they so desire.

    But an ‘Ulster is British’ campaign isn’t going to appeal beyond the unionist electorate and, if football experience is anything to go by, will be met immediately with suspicion by nationalists.

    The point you make about including all sport ‘not affiliated to the Irish team’ is a bit perplexing. Surely any competitor can choose to affiliate to the Irish team, so I don’t think a focus on individual sports would be productive and might be deemed as a provocative action, looking to label a sport as ‘belonging’ to one national identity or the other.

    The focus should remain on respecting the individual competitor’s right to choose. Many sports have evolved naturally as all-Ireland and/ or northern organised, and more often than not the experience of the athletes within these structures determines their choice when it comes to representing a country at international level.

    In this regard, I noted an interview conducted on radio with Kate Hoey where she was making this very point with regard to swimmers in the north of Ireland. Yet, if memory serves me correctly, her interventions during the on-going dispute over eligiblity regarding football were very much about refusing to recognise the right of Irish nationalists in the north to represent Republic of Ireland at international football level.

    Addressing that vexed issue, together with concerns about guaranteeing the right of choice for athletes hoping to qualify for the Olympics, should go hand in hand.

    Both come down to respecting the legitimacy of both identities here. Where have I heard that before….

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    I hope that Billy Britain Brown does go ahead with plans for a GB team. He has perhaps been mesmerised by the London based meedja who do not in any way shape or form represent public opinion in Scotland. Any push by Brown would, I believe allow the SNP to play dirty, perhaps for the first time. We have witnessed countless anti-Nationalist smear campaigns by Labour and their servile minions in the Scottish media. The issue of football and nationality should be an opportunity too good to miss for an SNP government who perhaps are on the surge of a wave, yet to reach the crest. I know the gently steady as you go approach has been a rip roaring success, but opportunity awaits for a crushing blow.

    Witness the scenes in midweek at the Scotland N.I. friendly, when confronted by a supposedly Irish team resplendent in Union flags and belting out GSTQ as their national anthem. The Tartan army, incredulous to the sights and sights afforded to them reacted by booing and jeering. A Scottish football support, generally more Nationalist than a population that grows more Nationalist by the day, allied with facing the unexpected symbols of our “Auld enemy”(England) and the scene was set for the booing. And if the confusion and incredulity witnessed since on our 3 nightly radio phone ins have anything to go by regarding why the N.I. fans need to display English/British symbols and have GSTQ. The reputation of the N.I. team have been somewhat lowered in the eyes of a neutral and even friendly Scottish football community.

    The Tartan army are now mainly made up of supporters of small clubs with the majority coming from the east of Scotland. Celtic fans had historically been loose supporters of Scotland, some believing themselves to be Irish(despite tentative claims) and others genuinely put off by the custom of some Rangers fans to wear their club colours to Scotland games, and their habit of demanding Rangers players are picked over Celtic players and the booing of Celtic players(sound familiar?).

    Many Rangers fans gradually fell away from supporting Scotland, and now it is the norm to spot England football tops and St.George’s flags amongst their support(much to the chagrin of many Rangers fans I know). Sympathies with Ulster Unionism, Loyalists such as Adair adopting an England top as almost a uniform And the growing Scottish nationalism of Scotland fans as opposed to the British nationalism of many Rangers fans may be the reasons here. In France 98 the only Rangers fan my group encountered was one in our own group, loads of Celtic fans and those from the east of Scotland. Yesterday we had Rangers fans singing derogatory songs about the Tartan army, and were belting out the British nationalist and Ulster Unionist songs with much gusto, so the lines are quickly being drawn.

    Thus in these conditions we would have a British PM trying to influence the SFA, who have already taken a vote and came out dead against a prospective GB team. Should the SNP miss the trick here, then more fool them.

  • Brian Walker

    Chris you rightly say:
    “The focus should remain on respecting the individual competitor’s right to choose. Many sports have evolved naturally as all-Ireland and or northern organised, and more often than not the experience of the athletes within these structures determines their choice when it comes to representing a country at international level.”

    My point is that the “right to choose” insofar as it exists apart from the organising bodies of the individual sports, is skewed if the Northern Ireland identity is buried in “Team GB” only. Not that the right to join an Irish team should be in any way be prejudiced. You may not care about this point but it is surely a fair one.

    Individuals in either tradition should be free to chose to go for whichever team GB or Ireland best suits their prospects without being thought unpatriotic. To me, that’s the benefit of our developing dual identity. Over the years, I hope more and more people see the benefit of it.

    However I wouldn’t have raised this if Gordon Brown hadn’t spoken about it – adding, I suspect, a great deal of confusion to an already complicated issue.

  • Does GB automatically get a football team or is there a qualification tournament?

    I think if FIFA want soccer in the Olympics then they should accommodate how nations are organised at the Olympics.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Brian

    Fair points.

    On the FIFA-Brown assurance, I noticed when in Tesco about 25 minutes ago that one of the locals is claiming the IFA have vetoed Brown’s GB Football team for the Olympics in 2012.

    Will try and find a link.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “[i]I thought Unionists would be delighted with a UK/GB soccer team! “[/i]

    It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but but at no cost to our home affairs. You see, this Unionist malarky isn’t as bad as you lot make it out to be.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Does GB automatically get a football team or is there a qualification tournament?<

  • Rewind

    I really don’t see what the fuss is about. Of course there should be a GB football team at the olympics, including anyone from NI who wants to and qualifies to play for it, just as in other sports. The name is no big deal. I don’t see anyone making a fuss about the UK’s official car emblem being GB rather than UK which is taken by Ukraine. In terms of geographical exactitude the Orkneys and Shetlands aren’t part of Great Britain either.

    The problem is with FIFA and whether they will allow this while maintaining four separate teams for other events. If they did allow it however I cannot see any possible reason why anyone would have any legitimate reason to object to it. England, Scotland, Wales and NI competing separately at the olympics in one sport is obviously out of the question.

  • Rewind

    @Brian Walker

    Individuals in either tradition should be free to chose to go for whichever team GB or Ireland best suits their prospects without being thought unpatriotic.

    True, but more importantly individuals in either tradition should be free to choose to go for whichever team, even if it doesn’t best suit their prospects, because they are patriotic. That’s the more important point.

  • Driftwood

    Just out of curiosity, did Ireland, or the RoI have a football team at Bejing?
    I noticed there was no GB ot Irish beach volleyball team either. I would like to have seen that!

  • longshot

    ‘I noticed there was no GB or Irish beach volleyball team either ‘

    That would have been a sight to behold. Our beer-bellied athletes would have arrived on the beach carrying a 4 pack of WKD and their ciggies-and the blokes would have been worse..

  • Driftwood

    Yeah Longshot, I figured.
    They would have had a scrap halfway through, and the wains would have been wandering on the ‘pitch’.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    anyone know if Wayne McCullough fought for Ireland at the Olympics? this morning on BBC coverage a commentator stated he fought for Ireland.

  • WindsorRocker

    Ulsters my homeland,

    McCullough fought for Ireland.

    As I mentioned on another thread, this is because Boxing operates in a way that allows lads from the north to box for NI at the Commonwealth games and then has all northern boxers representing Ireland at the Olympics.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Since repetition of threads is all the rage on this blog, here’s one I made earlier:

    There are three flags outside the Northern Ireland Supporters Club’s neutral premises: “Ulster” Flag (it might be a Flag of St George but, of course, that would be odd, wouldn’t it? What would Norn Iron fans be doing sporting England colours? So, let’s assume it’s an Ulster flag).

    There is a Union Jack alongside it and, finally, there is – get this – a Scottish flag. Just what that is doing there is anyone’s guess. Maybe they want to make Celtic supporters feel welcome but I seriously doubt that.

    But wait a minute, what’s this? Nearby in Sandy Row there’s a large mural. It is a UFF mural featuring masked man with a gun. Above him proudly fly three flags. The three flags are an Ulster Flag, a Union Jack and (you’re all way ahead of me here, aren’t you?) a Scottish Flag!

    And that’s why nationalists fear Windsor Park all the IFA slogans in the world don’t change the reality on the ground, at least, not yet they haven’t. Can you see? Can you see how it works in our wee country?

    You couldn’t make it up – and I haven’t.

  • sunny south east

    The question maybe regardless of the olympics can the four assocaitions survive especially if they fail to qualify let alone win soccer tournaments. From an international point of view why should catalonia bavaria or other distinct regions regardless of soccer leagues set ups not have the right. Wales have Cardiff and Swansea in the English league. 2012 may lead to a uk team a team that may win something for a change but the 4 home assocaitions should not have international teams unless you are independent. Maybe the home assocaitions are a barrier to independence as you can compete among nations.
    Prionsa Eoghan has the existence of the scottish taam helped or hintered the quest for independence.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Regarding a UK/GB soccer team I bet it would be composed of mainly English players! And well sure wouldn’t ‘God Save he Queen be the anthem’. Suit them fine!

    Probably the majority of northern lads mightn’t get picked for it either (for not being good enough) so they’d opt for the Ireland team then, as what some Unionists folks said of the Ulster athletes who opted for Team Ireland in the Olympics!

  • Con

    So I guess this means the talk of an all-Ireland soccer team has become moot.

  • No Taigs in Windsor

    “But wait a minute, what’s this? Nearby in Sandy Row there’s a large mural. It is a UFF mural featuring masked man with a gun. Above him proudly fly three flags. The three flags are an Ulster Flag, a Union Jack and (you’re all way ahead of me here, aren’t you?) a Scottish Flag!”

    Only a taig would make connection like that. God taigs are stupid sometimes. No wonder they smell.
    Thank God they know their place and don’t come to Windsor Park. A verse or two of rule britannia always takes care of them…

  • Realist

    “There is a Union Jack alongside it and, finally, there is – get this – a Scottish flag. Just what that is doing there is anyone’s guess. Maybe they want to make Celtic supporters feel welcome but I seriously doubt that.”

    billie Joe,

    Who were Northern Ireland playing mid week?

    Whilst you might see a Slovakian flag replace the Saltire over the next fortnight at the SBNISC, I would be surprised to see the UFF erect one at their mural.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Prionsa Eoghan has the existence of the scottish taam helped or hintered the quest for independence.< >Whilst you might see a Slovakian flag replace the Saltire over the next fortnight at the SBNISC, I would be surprised to see the UFF erect one at their mural.<

  • aslan akbey

    Thanks for the suggestion
    sakarya