“Now let’s be clear about this”, indeed.

Unusually for something associated with Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, MP, the reception at Hillsborough Castle today, in honour of Ireland’s grand-slam winning rugby team, has the potential to provide a clear picture of where we’re actually at. Reportedly to be in attendance are, in no particular order, Shaun Woodward, NI Sports Minister Gregory Campbell, the Republic of Ireland’s President Mary McAleese [although her office only lists a “reception to mark the 30th anniversary of Co-operation Ireland”] and, as suggested in the Irish News, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II – who arrived in NI yesterday. The Irish News reports that the NI deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, has declined an invitation to the reception. [subs req]

However, Mr McGuinness said, “Now let’s be clear about this the event is a British government sponsored event, organised and hosted by Shaun Woodward, the British Secretary of State. “In my opinion it is an inappropriate event in terms of its origin, organisation and location as an inclusive expression of the popular support on this island for the achievement of the rugby team. “I think the appropriate sponsored government event should be organised by our executive and assembly and not by a British direct rule minister.”

There has, of course, already been an Irish reception for the team. Adds NIO statement and a later BBC report.

Thirteen members of the squad and coach Declan Kidney joined Irish rugby legends from the past, including Jack Kyle and Willie John McBride

Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll said he realised the significance of the all-Ireland team meeting the Queen.

“I think the players from the Republic understand what the Queen means as much as the northern players do to the southern players when they meet Mary McAleese.

“So it’s a reciprocation and an understanding and it’s another opportunity to be patted on the back, so that can’t be a bad thing,” he said.

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  • joe

    It will be interesting to see if the IFRU website can find space amongst all the tag rugby reports to mention the reception being held at Hisslborough Castle and post a few pictures – or are they worried about offending/confusing a few of our Southern brethern.

  • dunreavynomore

    “Now let’s be clear about this the event is a British government sponsored event,” McGuinness

    Is that his own wee job at Stormont that he’s talking about??

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Well that’s me convinced he’s not a British agent. Or is there even one Republican drone who’s taken in by stunts quite this risible?

  • redhanded

    I think the appropriate sponsored government event should be organised by our executive and assembly

    … but that would require someone in the executive/assembly to get off their arses and organise it, wouldn’t it Marty?

    No one was stopping you.

    The window for this sort of event is very limited… the Irish players are involved with end of season games, Lions tours, tours to N America, holidays, back to pre-season training in August and then its 5 months after the event so what is the point?

  • The Raven

    “British government” “British Secretary of State” “inappropriate event” “origin, organisation and location as an inclusive expression” “British direct rule minister”

    Fairly innocuous on their own as phrases and words. String them together, however, and we have all the rhetoric of the past 30 years epitomised in one statement.

    Shared space, anyone? I think it’s a concept that cuts both ways. Dullsville. Yawn. Tear up voting card. Realise nothing changes.

  • Pity those that don’t

    How anyone can read that quote from McGuinness and not bust out laughing is beyond me.

  • Dave

    Where they’re actually at in NI is where they’ll always be: two nations locked in a struggle for control of one state. Although, technically, NI doesn’t make it onto the list of the world’s 203 states, being a region of the UK. That’s why all bar 5 of the world’s 203 states are nation-states. Those outside the definition (the UK is multi-national state and the US is a federation of states) are united by a common nationalism that compensates for their dysfunctional construction and ensures the essential loyalty to the sovereign state.

    Where wee Marty is actually at is a place where he is a British minister who is assisting in the administration of British rule are forced to do a little ‘republican’ dance for the wavering plebs to pretend that the Irish nation is sovereign in NI when that sovereignty actually resides with the British nation. The puppet pretending that it pulls its own strings, so to speak. As long as the Shinners sign on the dotted sign on all the important constitutional agreements that renounce the rights of the nation they were elected to represent in NI, then Marty can rant all he wants. In fact, the more he rants, the more useful he is to his masters. Which, of course, is why he is ranting.

  • Dec

    There has, of course, already been an Irish reception for the team.

    Aah, so Unionists aren’t Irish any more. I must keep up. still good to know 2 or possibly members of the team will be toasted by those renowned Irish rugby supporters Shaun Woodward, Gregory “No Pope Here, Boruc” Campbell and an 83 year old English Grandmother who just happens to be in town.

  • Rory Carr

    Like the DFM I am neither attending this shindig. Like him I deem it inappropriate.

    If they can’t be arsed to invite me, I always say then I can’t be feckin’ arsed to care to attend.

    Anyway I don’t care much for rugby. Still and all, a few drinks and a bit of scoff in grand surroundings at the public expense is not to be sneezed at these days. Of course I would have had to put up with that boring git, Woodward, but then I’ve had to put up with that in a previous incarnation.

  • The Raven

    Trolley boy at Sainsbury, Rory…?

  • Pete Baker

    Rory

    Try to focus on the actual topic, rather than riffing on on your previous incarnations.

    Dec

    “I must keep up.”

    Indeed you must.

    Dave

    “Where wee Marty is actually at is a place where he is a British minister who is assisting in the administration of British rule are forced to do a little ‘republican’ dance for the wavering plebs to pretend that the Irish nation is sovereign in NI when that sovereignty actually resides with the British nation.”

    Well, the UK nation.. but, other than that, indeed.

    Of course, it wasn’t, under any circumstances, because the head of the UK state would have been in attendance.

    No sirree.

    Just another missed opportunity to show those dissident republicans, and journalists, that we have really entered a new era..

  • 6countyprod

    Childish behaviour, indeed Martin. Or maybe, after Mountbatten, you don’t have the nerve to look HRH in the eye?

  • Hands out of goddamn pockets ROG. It doesn’t matter if it’s Liz Windsor, Macca, Brian Coward you’re meeting or any other official do – if you’re within five yards of a photography try not to look like a fecking corner boy.
    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/crowning-glory-as-grand-slam-stars-hailed-by-queen-elizabeth-1732568.html

  • Martin Johnson

    Just goes to show the maturity of the Republic compared to third world Ireland. How long did it take Campbell to recognise that a team from there won the Gaelic Football All-Ireland?