Football eligibility row illustrates unionism’s inability to respect ‘The Other’ tradition

One issue which illustrates perfectly the inability or unwillingness of unionist politicians to understand their Irish nationalist neighbours is that of the ongoing whingefest surrounding the ability of Irish citizens born in the Six Counties to represent the Republic of Ireland international soccer team.

Having stoked the flames of this fire for several years now, the DUP have decided that now is the time to call for inter-governmental talks between the British and Irish governments with the sole objective of denying northerners the right to represent the Republic of Ireland.

Why they expect governments to take time out from other pressing engagements to entertain such a notion is perplexing in its own right. But exactly why they’d expect their nationalist partners in the Executive- or indeed Irish government in Dublin- to engage in such talks is beyond comprehension.

Already Sinn Fein have replied in kind, calling for an all-Ireland team to replace the two international sides.

The latest bout of whining has been sparked by the on-field success of Derry-born James McClean, who is expected to be called into Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad on Friday and thereby make his first appearance in the Republic’s squad (the same individual has been the target of some fairly extreme politically motivated and personal abuse via his Twitter account in recent days from Northern Ireland ‘fans.’)

Having spent generations decrying the fact that nationalist Ireland refused to accept and respect their British identity, what is it that makes unionists so incapable of accepting and respecting the all-Ireland identity of their nationalist neighbours?

  • galloglaigh

    Congal Claen

    Nationalism’s desire?

  • stewart1

    “The Republic now have a special rule to pick all NI underage players”

    Red Lion

    Could you explain why you say ‘now have a special rule’?

    Irish players born in the north have always been eligible to represent the FAI. Unionists seem incapable of understanding that players born in the north were representing Ireland prior to the GFA and were always eligible under FIFA rules

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Gallo,

    How would you describe it?

  • stewart1

    “The last thing NI needs is players with dubious commitment. Let them go. Then their place can be taken by someone who wants to play.”

    Congal Clean

    Are you saying that players for whom their first international choice did not occur are less committed?

    Is Lee Camp is less committed to the IFA because he represented England at every underage level?.

    Is Niall McGinn less committed to helping the IFA team win games even-though he grew up supporting the Republic Of Ireland?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Stew,

    Yip.

  • galloglaigh

    Congal Claen

    How would I describe it – as in your comment: Victorian!

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Gallo,

    So nationalism no longer desires a UI? That ended in Victorian times?

  • Ruarai

    McClean is opting to play for a nation whose citizens live in two distinct states: NI and ROI.

    This is recognized by law across the UK and Ireland, it’s the essence of the GFA and it’s is accepted by FIFA. So why the fuss?

    1. It’s understandable that NI fans resent youth level players later declaring for the ROI. If it’s not completely reasonable to expect northern nationalists never to participate in local youth structures they fund as much as anyone else, it’s nonetheless reasonable that northern nationalists should declare as early as possible. But NI fans should be careful what they wish for here – pressure to declare early is a very strong argument for the FAI setting up formal structures in the north for any young players wishing to wear the Republic’s colors.

    2. An obvious underlying problem highlighted by this debate is the failure of many within the unionist community to understand what they signed up to on Good Friday. This is as much the fault of all the Agreement’s salesmen as it was with the unionist parties themselves – a failure that has become worse as efforts have been made to bring “in” the DUP, following their initial trenchant opposition in ’98.

    I mention this because, settled – or settling – as the broader peace process looks, the sense of shock, outrage and astonishment expressed by unionists towards basic outworkings of the GFA – such as northern nationalists playing for the ROI – is a worrying omen for the future of the “New Northern Ireland” the GFA created: i.e. a NI that is no longer based on the idea that all its citizens have or owe loyalty and allegiance to the state and, more specifically, that many residents in Northern Ireland have a legally enshrined right to have (and have respected) not Northern Irish with a capital N but Irish as their nationality; a nationality that’s equally legally valid to the British nationality chosen by many in NI or the choice of some to take both, etc.

    State residency and nationality have been disentangled. Uncommon elsewhere? Yes. But very real in Ireland.

    3. The real crisis for the IFA will come when a NI Protestant, on identity or sporting groups, opts to play for the ROI, either because they feel more comfortable with that side and/or because that side gives them a better sporting chance of playing in a major championship – a real tipping point on various levels.

    I don’t write that in glee or as a taunt. Crises should be avoided. So how to avoid walking into that cauldron?

    Abolish both teams, – evolve both teams into a new association covering both international level and domestic soccer. Merge the league of Ireland and the Irish league, the FAI and the IFA. It will lift the standard, marketing opportunities and punching power for all soccer participants, investors and players across the island – and, via the rising tide in competitiveness, interest and quality players and coaches, there would be a positive knock-on for overall standards and economic opportunities across Britain and Ireland. (Plus a new angle, perhaps, to link with the SPL or what’s left of it if Rangers bring the roof in.)

    Identity wise, play in Orange, have the side walk out to a flute band and create whatever symbols you like – for all I, for one, care. But the logic of one association where Linfield, Cliftonville and the Glens are regularly competing with Rovers, Cork and the rest is the way to go at local level. And one side, modeled on the rugby team but with less of an overt nationalist identity is the way forward for a national side.

  • Hopping The Border

    Ruarai,

    I really didn’t want to comment on this thread as the topic has been argued ad nauseam at this stage, but you’ve forced my hand.

    Play in orange??

    Have you not seen this monstrosity!! 😀

    http://thescore.thejournal.ie/in-pictures-fyr-macedonia-0-republic-of-ireland-2-149511-Jun2011/#slide-slideshow2

    On a serious note, much of your enumerated points are spot on, but unfortunately I don’t think the day will come (in the short – medium term at least ) where there is a unified team for (at least) three reasons:

    (1) The NI football team is the almost singular embodiment of the “Northern Irish” identity which is present internationally.

    (2) From an ROI perspective, things are very workable at present and everything is within the law. Why give up anything to facilitate less than 1/5th of the Island’s population who don’t want a unified team in any case?

    (3) The present arrangement allows everyone the choice to play with the team that fits their political and cultural outlook and no one is forced to play for any team, despite Mr. Dodd’s (and a few on this site) wishes.

  • Congal Claen

    Considering how long our memories are supposed to be, nationalist poster’s memories seem remarkably short on this issue.

    2 points…

    1.) You split the unified team and setup the FAI
    2.) In the aftermath, you whinged when NI continued to pick players from the RoI. So, NI stopped doing it.

    Now however, when it suits you, you want a united team and to be able to pick players from NI.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Congal Claen

    Fair comments.

    Ruarai

    I’m glad you recognise the overtly nationalist/republican identity that is used for the island of ireland rugger team. Nationalist posters on Slugger continually ignore this while condemning the overtly unionist identity at NI games. I’m looking forward to the day that these hypocrites open their eyes and recognise the lack of respect shown to unionist players and supporters at the games in dublin. I have yet to hear or read about a nationalist/republican politician calling for the SS or tricolour not to be used at rugby games. The flag for the all island team is supposed to be the four provinces flag but this was replaced by the tricolour and 9 county ulster flag at the last world cup. Thankfully they didn’t ram the SS down the throats of the unionist fans in NZ.

    What makes you think that an island of ireland football team would be any different? I can see the merits of having an island of ireland team but I believe republicans will try and impose their emblems on this team. Do you believe that a flag which represents both NI and ROI supporters can be devised? If it was possible, would both sets of supporters agree to fly this flag and no other flag? What anthem would be used? Would games be played alternately between Belfast and Dublin? What would the name of the new body be called? Are republican’s prepared to accept that the SS and tricolour will never be used to represent an all ireland football team? These are many questions that need to answered by nationalist’s and to be honest I’m not sure NI fans would be very trusting of the FAI and the republic’s fans at the present time, especially northern one’s who appear to thrive in mocking them at every given opportunity.

    There was an interesting article in the irish times regarding a fund raiser for the all ireland hockey team in 1978. It was to raise funds for the team who were going to be playing in the world cup in Argentina. The munster branch arranged a game between its players and an all star team made up of gaa and rugby players from cork. The likes of Christy Ring was going to be playing but the gaa refused its players permission to play because the irish hockey team used the four provinces flag and the Londonderry Air as their flag and anthem. Here was a cross community team made up of irish unionist’s and irish nationalist’s being snubbed by a fellow sporting organisation for not using the republican emblem and anthem. I wonder how much republican’s/nationalist’s have moved from that line of thinking? It seems the only way that they can define thier irishness is through these emblems.

  • JR

    Alan,

    In ways I agree with you. A flag is a colored sheet and the National anthem is a just a song.

    The problem is explaining to your 10 year old as you bring him to his first Ireland match what is wrong with your national flag. How every other country in the world have an acceptible flag but yours doesn’t.

    No-one is forcing you to wave a tricolor. But you you should ask yourself why you don’t tolerate the guy that chooses to.

  • galloglaigh

    Congal Claen

    What hasn’t ended since Victorian times, is people like you throwing all ‘Nationalists’ into the one basket. Your use of the term ‘Shotgun Wedding’ implies something other than the reality! That’s what’s Victorian kido!

  • galloglaigh

    Alan N/Ards

    Are republican’s prepared to accept that the SS and tricolour will never be used to represent an all ireland football team?

    If unionists/loyalists were prepared to accept that GSTQ and the Union Flag were never to be used to represent the Northern Ireland football team, then you might not have as many young nationalists playing for the Rep.!

    A lot of what you posted at 8.44, could be flipped to represent a republican argument.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Gallo,

    Sorry, “armalite wedding” then…

    Hi JR,

    is football not one of those foreign, garrison sports anyhow? Why the fascination with republican emblems? Is that not what the GAA is for?

  • galloglaigh

    Congal Claen

    Your last comment just sums you up! I don’t remember nationalists like John Hume running around Derry with an armalite, but just you keep the unionist ‘victim’ agenda alive.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Gallo,

    yer a big fan of the auld irony then?

  • galloglaigh

    Indeed, the very irony in your comments and the title of this thread!

  • FuturePhysicist

    Red Lion (profile) 10 February 2012 at 10:18 pm
    Futurephysicist

    Believe me,NI is way more unique than Eng in this-or virtually every other country in the world. I think a lot of people on here need to go and understand the eligibility rule.

    But yet u have contradicted yourself- eng u21 players go and then play for other countries senior teams because of, as you term it, ‘ancestry’ rules – or in football speak -the parents/grandparents rule. This rule is fine, i have no bones with it as it is applied universally across the board. The Eng u21 player needs a welsh parent or grandparent to play for wales senior team.

    What is different-i think this is the third time ive tried to explain this on this thread – is that an english u21 player with no welsh parent/grandparent cant just decide , hold on, ill go and play for wales-he needs a welsh parent/gparent to qualify.

    However, FIFA are now making NI the only association in the world where another association can pick off its players without the parent/g’parent rule. In effect, all who play for NI underage teams can pick if they play for NI OR ROI. Wales cant pick any English u21 player without parent/gparent rule to qualify that player. Nor can any other country, except the ROI. Im a simple man. If im not making it clear as to how NI are more disadvantagfed than every other association because of this rule then youll have to research the rule elsewhere. Im spent.

    I’ll grant ye the da silva example – in the case of INDIVIDUALS FIFA are certainly being a lot more relaxed about its own qualifying rules. Look at Equatorial Guinea in the Africa Nations Cup. But this concerns individuals, not a whole country being treated as a one-off.
    ———————————————————————————–

    The entire Northern Ireland u21 could play for Germany, Mauritania, Guam, Tuvalu, Venezula, Qatar or whoever due to citizenship rule. All they have to do is qualify for citizenship.

    The Citizenship rule is applied across the board too, remember in effect it use to be the case that any British citizen born outside the UK, including those from the Republic of Ireland could play for England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland if they were not capped by any other nation. In effect that would allow Northern Ireland to claim many uncapped English and Scottish league foreigners who stay a long time at their club.

    Northern Ireland eventually I believe did a gentleman’s agreement to basically advantage England, and they also prevented many English born players who were eligible to play for them, such as Alan Kernaghan on the basis that they weren’t “Northern Irish” enough.

    The IFA made themselves very uncompetitive in a market that the other 200 plus nations are managing to play a lot better.

  • Mike the First

    “‘Northern Irish folks can all themselves Rwandan for all I care….it doesn’t make them so’

    Painful as it is for me to skewer the ramblings of an internet troll, the Good Friday Agreement states that the one thing Northern Irish Folk are not is, well, Northern Irish. Ironic, eh?”

    Painful as it is for me to skewer the garbage spouted by an ill-informed ot just deliberately misleading poster, but the GFA does not “state” any such thing. It simply mentions British and Irish nationalities – the two legal nationalities available.

    It’s simply a lie to pretend that the GFA “states” that people are “not…Northern Irish” (never mind it being the “one thing” the GFA “states” people are “not”!). It doesn’t mention Northern irish identity – presumably by that logic you think the GFA also “states” that people are “not” European…

    Was seeing Northern Irish as an option on last year’s census painful for you?

  • Mike the First

    Above post direced to Dec.

  • john

    I see someone mentioned equatorial guinea if you think thats a joke wait until you see what the Qatar team will be like when they host the world cup. My guess a plane full of Brazilians will arrive 5 years before the world cup to play in their league and conveniently qualify for the national team just before the world cup. On a slight tangent dont know what the Italian rugby crowd are doing. All they need is an out half why dont they just take a couple of young promising kiws to Treviso for 3 years and hey presto problem solved!!

  • lover not a fighter

    It may be time to ditch handshakes, anthems, flags, diving, obscene wages, lack of respect for referees, racism and I am sure other things that I cannot come up with at this moment in time.

    Jeez there is a lot more wrong with football when I give it even a modicum of though.

    Something has to be done…… Er ya know something………

  • SethS

    I think you all need to actually read the CAS judgement as it sets out the issue pretty clearly.

    http://www.tas-cas.org/d2wfiles/document/4385/5048/0/Award%202071.pdf

    As I stated above there is no special FIFA rule for ROI. Citizenship that does not rely on residency automatically qualifies a person to play for that country (Article 15). The grandparent etc rule only kicks in if the person acquires a new nationality (CAS Ruling para 81)

    However, the ROI team ARE of course taking advantage of the fact that the ROI offers automatic citizenship for persons born in NI. Admittedly this is a rare though not entirely unique situation (China, for example, offers automatic citizenship to Taiwanese and Macau residents). THe child of foreigners born in a state that automatically offer citizenship at birth regardless might also automatically hold a dual nationality (all those born the US for example are automatically citizens without any need for residency)

    The gentleman’s agreement no longer exists as far as I can tell and has been replaced by article 16. This is in place specifically for the Home Nations as I can’t think of any other situations where citizenship would allow you to play for 4 different nations. Without this article, NI and the other Home Nations would be free to play anyone born in the UK regardless of grandparents or the like.

  • Dec

    ‘Painful as it is for me to skewer the garbage spouted by an ill-informed ot just deliberately misleading poster, but the GFA does not “state” any such thing. It simply mentions British and Irish nationalities – the two legal nationalities available.’

    What it states is that the “birthright” of all the people of Northern Ireland “to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both”. Your own commments regard ‘legal nationalities’ appears to back this up. So what’s your problem?

    Anyway, don’t get too het up, I was just responding to that age -old Unionist yawn that people from the North weren’t actually irish. I notice you don’t feel the need to throw the rattle from the pram when you read that.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Hi Mike the First

    Re. your interpretation of Pat Sheehan’s comments:

    Is it your position that, in the event of a politically united Ireland, there should still be two international football teams?

    As in, there should be a Northern Ireland football team, even if there is no longer a Northern Ireland?

  • SethS

    And of course if there remained 2 teams in Ireland following any unification then Article 16 would kick in and the “grandfather rule” WOULD apply.

    Seems like the simplest way to solve this issue is for the IFA to demand a united Ireland! (Only joking folks!)

  • lover not a fighter

    Should Sinn Féin be asking the FAI to admit their mistake and ask the FAI to re-apply to the IFA to return to the fold.

    It does seem that is what Sinn Fein should be calling for.

  • Neil

    That’s it dude great idea. Get politics into sport that’s what they always say.

    Sheehan is entitled to hold and express his opinion. We’ll leave the actual interfering to the likes of Dodds and anyone else who can’t get their head around the rules and rulings which tell you this is a resolved issue.

  • SethS

    Historically, the reverse was also true as all Irish citizens born before 1949 were entitled to British subject status and a British passport – so up to about 1989 – if one considers goalkeepers can play to about 40, the IFA was also able to select players born anywhere in Ireland.

  • galloglaigh

    SethS

    The IFA still has the ability to select players born anywhere in Ireland.

  • Alan N/Ards

    JR

    I have a 10 year old son who’s rugby mad. He’s also keen on hockey, which is of course an all ireland sport as well. He knows that his national flag is the union flag. he knows that the national anthem is GSTQ. How can I take him to see his “national team” when his national flag is nowhere on show at the game? I would say that the intolerance shown at these games comes from the republican tradition. Unionist rugger fans have down the years supported the team through thick and thin. They have endured these emblems out of their love of rugby. They have endured player’s from the unionist tradition being bombed by republican’s who wrapped themselves in the tricolour during the troubles. In fact one player had his career finish by republican bombers. They also have endured threats made on players on fans online forums because they didn’t sing the SS at games.

    When ireland played at ravenhill a few season’s ago( the first time since 1955) not one union flag was in the ground. Even though GSTQ was banned by the IRFU they accepted it. Unfortunately the same respect is not shown to unionist fans in the republic. You say I’m intolerant. I would say look in the mirror JR. Unionist fans are the most respectful of other peoples traditions on this island. Once again I say that republicans can only define their irishness through these emblems. They are the mirror image of loyalist’s who insist on ramming their emblems down everyones throats. There is no respect for unionist players or fans by the IRFU. I know of a number of ulster fans who 10/12 years ago couldn’t take it anymore and opted to support scotland as they are ulster scots. There will be a day whem many more will follow.

    gallgoliath

    I accept yopu argument about NI games. I would go further and say that GSTQ should only be used by teams representing the Uk. I’m northern irish first and british second. I want an anthem that represents my northern irishnesss. The SS should only be used for teams representing the ROI not all ireland teams. Would you agree?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Alan N/Ards,

    I said to you before I’m in favour of dropping the SS in Dublin. If northern supporters like yourself made a petition to the IRFU and outlined the genuine issue of being made feel like an outsider at the games where it’s played then you would get signatures in the South too.

    But the reality is most of the Unionists/Loyalists in NI don’t even support the all Ireland rugby team. It’s a (welcome) minority of that community that do. Of the 51,000 in the Aviva, maybe 47,000 want the SS played and 4,000 don’t. So it is a very contentious issue and this is probably the dilemma of the IRFU.

    They clearly try to satisfy both by not playing the SS away from Dublin and if you can’t see that as a clear nod of respect to the northern Protestants in the crowd then you’re being deliberately blind.

    As regards supporting Scotland, there’s no Union Jacks or GSTQ for Scotland games either.

  • Alan N/Ards

    ROC

    I agree that the irfu have changed the anthem for away games which is to appreciated. The fact that at ravenhill, irelands call was played, made a mockery of ravenhill being a home game. The vast majority at ravenhillI that night were unionist’s yet they didn’t demand GSTQ to be played. They respected the fact that the minority of fans from the republic would have felt uncomfortable with it. That is the difference between unionist suuporters and nationalist supporters of the team. Republican’s are happy to make the Aviva a cold house and a uncomfortable place for loyal supporters of the team who are unionist. If you can’t see that then you are also blind.

    The people who stopped supporting Ireland did so because they couldn’t stomach the cold house anymore. They aren’t out and out ulster loyalist’s so it was nothing to do with GSTQ. They take their scottish saltire with them whenever they go. Not a union flag. I see one of them regulary and she feels very at ease at Murrayfield. Her husband sometimes wears his kilt going to the games. They feel that they are with their ain kind.

    A question for you. Why is there this need to to play an anthem that will only inspire some of the team? What would happen if the best 15 players happened to unionist’s and they were picked for the team. Would it be fair to play this anthem at the games? There will be a day when a unionist player or players will opt for the likes of scotland rather than endure this cold house.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Alan,

    I can’t comprehend anyone going to a Scotland match wearing a kilt or waving a Scottish flag if you’re not Scottish but it’s up to individuals how they feel. The issue for the Irish team is to make all Irish people, of whatever background, feel welcome.

    It is up to supporters like yourself to lobby the IRFU on the issue and get one new anthem and flag accepted by all. Changes will inevitably occur if there’s enough voices calling for it.

  • galloglaigh

    Alan I agree 100% with you.

  • FuturePhysicist

    The best Sinn Féin can do, (and perhaps are doing judging by McGuinness) is simply say both the IFA and FAI represent partionist states, both are equally Irish and equally inferior preferences to a united 32 county team, and it’s encouraging for Irish nationalists to wish for Northern Ireland to face the Republic of Ireland in World Cups, European Championships heck even Confederation Cups … until there is a unified team, and you don’t become more Irish playing for one over the other.

  • FuturePhysicist

    * Northern Ireland to face the Republic of Ireland in the finals of …

  • Mike the First

    Dec

    “What it states is that the “birthright” of all the people of Northern Ireland “to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both”. Your own commments regard ‘legal nationalities’ appears to back this up. So what’s your problem? ”

    My problem is that this is a far cry from your claim, that “the Good Friday Agreement states that the one thing Northern Irish Folk are not is, well, Northern Irish”. That is quite simply a downright lie. The GFA doesn’t state that anybody isn’t anything (e.g. European), never mind specifically stating that the “one thing” people “are not” is Northern Irish.

    The GFA simply uses the two citizenships available to people from Northern Ireland. It doesn’t say that people aren’t don’t have any other identities whatsoever – it doesn’t say, for example, that you are not European, or an Ulsterman. To pretend it does is rather odd, and to pretend it singles out Northern Irish (“the one thing”) as something that people “are not” – well, that’s downright bizarre.

    I wonder if you think, when the UK government refers to British citizenship, that it is saying that no-one is Scottish, or Welsh (for example). I wonder how your claim tallies with Northern Irish being there on the census form alongside Irish and British.

    “Anyway, don’t get too het up, I was just responding to that age -old Unionist yawn that people from the North weren’t actually irish.”

    So you feel the best way to respond to people making these claims about identity is to make your own counter-claims? Rather hypocritical, no?

    “I notice you don’t feel the need to throw the rattle from the pram when you read that.”

    I tend to stay out of these rather childish arguments on the lines of “you’re not this, no you’re not this” – I only tend to get involved to pick up on specific factual errors (or deliberate untruths with the fact), such as the wilful misunderstanding in relation to Great Britain, the UK, and British citizenship.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Essentially may the best “Ireland” win.

  • Mike the First

    Billy Pilgrim

    “Is it your position that, in the event of a politically united Ireland, there should still be two international football teams?

    As in, there should be a Northern Ireland football team, even if there is no longer a Northern Ireland?”

    If it were a unitary state, then no, there shouldn’t be a Northern Ireland team, as there wouldn’t be (as you say) a Northern Ireland.

    If there were some sort of confederal/devolved arrangement, then perhaps the argument could be made for retaining the NI team, like the UK teams today, or a bit like Hong Kong and Macau. (Which would actually as SethS says ironically restrict players from NI to the NI team and not the ‘Southern’ one!).

    That said though, that’s clearly not the context of Sheehan’s comments, which are about wanting an all-Ireland team now.

  • CoisteBodhar

    Any progress or civility shown in the rugby stands cannot be expected to be mirrored in soccer. Well, we can have all the expectation we want but the reality will be very different. Rugby, generally attracts a more civil crowd.

  • JR

    Why do you insist on calling everyone who fly’s a tricolor at matches a Republican. 90% of those at rugby matches do not come from a republican tradition. they are just Irish people supporting the national team? You don’t need to lecture me about bombs either. Our family home which I live in now was completely destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1976 (before I was born) then damaged again in July 1986, My dad was only yards from the bomb he had his head in the boot getting something out which protected him from the blast.

    Anyway. Back on topic. Personally as I have said I see your point with the SS. The lyrics are not exactly neutral it is clearly a Republican song. GSTQ is obviously totally unsuitable at any Ireland match (Famine, Penal laws, 600years of oppression etc). That is why Irelands call was written. As for flags there is nothing wrong with a tricolor at an Ireland match, hokey, rugby or any other for that matter. It is the flag of 90% of the people on the Island. I personally don’t own a tricolor. I never have and probably never will so I don’t know how it defines me.

  • Alan N/Ards

    JR
    The all ireland rugger team a is not a ROI team. It also belongs to the people from NI as well. It is an all ireland team. That is why the tricolour should not be used. I respect the right of the ROI teams to use their national flag for international games. Why do you insist on making it a cold house for unionist’s who have loyally supported the team for decades. Both hockey and bowls which are all ireland sports use a neutral flag for their matches. Rpublican’s have accused unionist’s of ramming their emblem’s done nationalist’s throats for years. And I would agree that at times they were justified in thier complaints. Unfortunately they don’t seem believe that they are doing the same thing. Maybe if we all walk a mile in someone else’s shoe’s we would have a better understanding of each other. Has the term “croppy lie down” now been replaced with “orangie lie down”.

  • JR

    Alan,

    For me to walk a mile in your shoes you will first have to help me understand your position by answering my question. Why do you not tolerate a guy who chooses to fly a trycolor at an Ireland match?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Alan

    I think you’re guilty of transposing a northern problem onto the south. The fact is that flags and emblems are a northern problem. The south has its flags and emblems, and they are uncontroversially accepted and cherished, virtually universally. So one can understand why southerners simply refuse to accept that their flags and emblems are something they should hide away.

    Northerners have no such set of shared flags and emblems. The ones we have are almost all highly controversial. The only possible exceptions are the Ulster banner and Ireland’s Call (imperfect though they are), and to be fair, the IRFU does use both of those.

    It’s not the IRFU’s fault that Northern Ireland does not have a shared, agreed set of flags and emblems, as the Republic of Ireland does. And the existence of controversy in the north does not therefore make the southern symbols controversial.

    And to their very great credit, the vast majority of northern rugby people (who, of course, are mostly unionists) have never let these things get in the way of their love of rugby, and indeed of Irish rugby, its proud traditions and its shared symbols – even throughout the troubles, when one could easily have understood why they might have.

    It’s up to we northerners to deal with our own problem of flags and emblems; it’s not the responsibility of anyone else to hide theirs away, out of deference to our own local difficulty.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    But just to add, lest I be accused of moving the goalposts: I’m against any such shared flags and emblems for Northern Ireland.

    I know this makes impossible the very remedy I prescribe above. I don’t want to mess you about and waste your time by pretending otherwise. But please, don’t blame me.

    Blame the state of Northern Ireland, so flawed from the very beginning.

  • Congal Claen [12.29pm] It wasn’t just nationalist players who weren’t into the NI team to judge from the last Euro2012 qualifiers as Worthington discovered. After the Serbia match in September, which was lost through an unforced error by one of the main players, the two Estonia games were thrown away by uncommitted players on the unionist ones. Thius team hasn’t a hope of getting to Brazil in 2014 with that sort of commitment.

  • Alan N/Ards

    JR

    I have tolerated it for years. I have never ignored anyone who might be flying one at matches. I have chatted to them during games and after games. I stand respectfully for an anthem that is not my own, that I do know the words too, every time I’m lucky enough to get a ticket for a match. Because I’m am uncomfortable with these emblems does not make intolerant. If these emblems are the only way to express your irishness then sobeit. A compromise regarding the flag issue is easliy solved. Fly the NI flag alongside the tricolour as the 9 county is not a flag recognised by unionist’s as their own. Nationalist’s at the moment have the best of both worlds with the tricolour and 9 county flag flying.

    Billy
    I believe unionist’s have been loyal to irish rugby down through the years( both players and fans) and they deserve to be recognised by the IRFU. The flying of the NI flag would go a long way to recognise this. Why is this flag not recognised by irish rugby as a legitimate flag? How are unionist’s being accomodated when there is no recognition of their existance on the island of ireland by irish rugny? From past posts I know that you have attended games at ravenhill. I sure you have found ulster fans to be very respectful of every one who attends games there. Why are we being snubbed by irish rugby?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Alan

    You’ve alluded to the crux of the matter. What do you think IRFU symbolism should reflect: Northern Ireland, or the unionist community? They’re not the same thing.

    I can see the logic in the IRFU recognising the symbolism of the two political entities within its jurisdiction – indeed, this would surely be a straightforward matter, but for the problems with symbolism that exist within one of the jurisdictions – but I’d question the principle that such recognition should be given to a particular political tradition.

    ‘Why is this flag not recognised by Irish rugby as a legitimate flag?’

    If you mean the Government of Northern Ireland flag, it has not enjoyed any legitimate standing since 1972. The question is not why the IRFU (and indeed Her Majesty’s Government) does not recognise it, but why some organisations still do.

    ‘How are unionists being accommodated when there is no recognition of their existence on the island of Ireland by Irish rugby?’

    I would suggest the Ulster banner and Ireland’s Call are such acts of recognition. I don’t blame you for regarding these gestures as imperfect, but it’s not the IRFU’s fault. Responsibility for this frustrating (for you) situation actually lies with northern nationalists. Essentially, they have forced a stalemate on matters of symbolism in NI.

    The IRFU is just a rugby union, trying to make the best of a situation beyond its control, by using the few non-controversial symbols available to them. And in fairness, Irish rugby has kept the lid on things, even during the decades when few lids on this island were kept on.

    This remarkable success story is attributable entirely to the goodwill of people on all sides. In fact, I’d single out unionist rugby people for particular credit; but this still doesn’t mean southerners should acquiesce to the wrongful premise that their symbols are controversial.

    ‘From past posts I know that you have attended games at Ravenhill.’

    Used to be quite a regular, but don’t get to go as often as I’d like these days. (Especially since the lads have improved so much.) Absolutely love Ravenhill.

    But one could make mischief about Ravenhill, if one were sufficiently hatefully-minded. For example, it contains a (rather beautiful) memorial to the British army’s war dead – an army I’ve had cause to dislike.

    But in truth, the memorial has never caused me a nanosecond of conflict. It’s as controversial as a tricolour in Dublin – i.e. not at all. If anyone tried to say it was, they’d have me to deal with first.

    I’ve always been too busy having a good time to worry about such things. In that respect, I imagine I’m rather like a unionist at Lansdowne Road. (Or Croke Park!)

    (Though I might have had more difficulty had I been attending twenty or thirty years ago, so I have great respect for those unionists who never let the IRA prevent them from attending Lansdowne Road, even in those dark days.)

  • sliabhluachra

    Nothern Unionist political pygmies who wouldn’t get a ball in a bath are slabbering on about Irish soccer to appeal to their neanderal base.
    Remember when Jack Charlton got his mercenaries to the quarter finals and the Dublin City councillors shinnying up the scaffolding to leech off his success.
    Or the great Charlie Haughey, Ireland’s ever greatest cycling fan.
    To think that people actually vote for these political retards.

    Alan, hate to break it to you but no one likes Unionists mostly as there is nothing to like about them.
    If the IRFU wishes to expand or even survive it has to continue to expand into GAA land where very many of their most recent greats came from. Rugby in Ireland is a delicate, foreign flower,hoping to be nourished by notions and dreams of being upwardly mobile and British.
    If it shows its true colours, it will get its comeuppance and be kicked back to its sterile spawning grounds.

    As a second rate Brit (ie not English), you must know that soccer continues its upward empty march and the GAA is the big Irish bulwark to the march of sporting mediocrity in Ireland.
    The professionalism with which Irish provincial rugby is organised and the successes that has brought has helped a lot. Your urge to shove your generally loathsome (to real Brits) 12th July stuff down everyone’s necks would, in the minds of the IRFU be counter productive.
    So your son wil have to siffer on. maybe we can organise a telethon for him?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Anyway, Nigel Dodds shouldn’t be saying anything … he could create a big plethora here. FIFA does not allow “political interference” in the ruling of the domestic game.

    http://www.playthegame.org/news/detailed/inconsistency-in-fifas-suspensions-over-government-interference-4594.html

    I mean why would an Irish nationalist play for Northern Ireland if petty meddling by Doddsy gets them kicked out of the World Cup qualifiers?

    Heck, England could be suspended from the Euros if they interfere, dido Republic of Ireland … if the suspension goes wholesale Scotland and Wales who are in the same group for qualification also get kicked out and their group becomes Belgium and three Balkans.

    And before you think it, no they wouldn’t be allowed to bring back the home nations tournament. Shame.

  • Mike the First

    Billy Pilgrim

    “I think you’re guilty of transposing a northern problem onto the south. The fact is that flags and emblems are a northern problem. The south has its flags and emblems, and they are uncontroversially accepted and cherished, virtually universally. So one can understand why southerners simply refuse to accept that their flags and emblems are something they should hide away.”

    The island of Ireland, however, has no official or universally accepted flag/emblem.

    “If you mean the Government of Northern Ireland flag, it has not enjoyed any legitimate standing since 1972. The question is not why the IRFU (and indeed Her Majesty’s Government) does not recognise it, but why some organisations still do.”

    The yellow 9-county Ulster flag has not enjoyed any official standing in Northern Ireland since…well, ever, possibly? And has never been used to represent Northern Ireland.

    In the sporting arena, it’s used (in sports organised on that basis) to represent a 9-county Ulster.

    So I really don’t see how there’s any logic there in terms of using the 9-county Ulster flag to represent Northern Ireland, rather than the Ulster Banner (Government of Northern Ireland flag) which is actually used in the international sporting arena to represent Northern Ireland (and is the only flag of its own NI has ever had).

    Of course if the IRFU didn’t like this, they could use the official NI flag…

    The IRFU’s current position with regard to flags is a bad effort at a compromise – akin to the British & Irish Lions using the Union Flag and the St Patrick flag to represent them.

  • Mike the First

    sliabhluachra

    “Alan, hate to break it to you but no one likes Unionists mostly as there is nothing to like about them.”

    Nice of you to lay your prejudice bare for everyone to see.

    “If the IRFU wishes to expand or even survive it has to continue to expand into GAA land where very many of their most recent greats came from. Rugby in Ireland is a delicate, foreign flower,hoping to be nourished by notions and dreams of being upwardly mobile and British.
    If it shows its true colours, it will get its comeuppance and be kicked back to its sterile spawning grounds.”

    The Irish Football Union and the Northern Football Union of Ireland were formed in 1874: they amalgamated into the Irish Rugby Football Union in 1879.

    The Irish Football Association was formed in 1880.

    The Gaelic Athletic Association was formed in 1884.

    “Delicate, foreign flower”, indeed. You’re showing your ignorance of the history of Irish rugby.

    And what exactly do you mean by “sterile spawning grounds”?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Mike the First

    ‘The island of Ireland, however, has no official or universally accepted flag/emblem.’

    I never said it did. So the use of two flags and two anthems is appropriate.

    ‘The yellow 9-county Ulster flag has not enjoyed any official standing in Northern Ireland since…well, ever, possibly? And has never been used to represent Northern Ireland.’

    No, but it IS non-controversial, and it DOES represent, in at least some fashion, those players who are not from the Republic and who don’t feel that the other flag used by the IRFU – i.e. the tricolour – represents them. While I understand that some might prefer the GoNI flag instead, no-one actually objects to the provincial banner.

    ‘I really don’t see how there’s any logic there in terms of using the 9-county Ulster flag to represent Northern Ireland…’

    The tricolour is uncontroversial in the Republic. The provincial flag of Ulster is uncontroversial in NI. I acknowledge that the two are not equivalents, and that this is an inelegant solution, but this is a problem for the people of Northern Ireland, where we do not have agreed symbols, as they have in the south. It would be wrong to expect the IRFU to take sides in this northern-specific dispute.

    ‘…rather than the Ulster Banner (Government of Northern Ireland flag)…’

    Because then the IRFU would be intervening in a northern-specific dispute. If we ever have shared, uncontroversial symbols in NI, I’m certain the IRFU will be the first to use them, as they presently use the shared, uncontroversial if imperfect symbols we do have. That we have no such symbols is an issue for the people of Northern Ireland, not the IRFU.

    ‘ (GoNI flag) is the only flag of its own NI has ever had…’

    But is nevertheless a hugely controversial one. It cannot be said to represent Northern Ireland, if by ‘Northern Ireland’ you mean the people who actually live here.

    ‘The IRFU’s current position with regard to flags is a bad effort at a compromise…’

    I wouldn’t say it’s a bad effort. Rather it’s an honest effort and an imperfect solution to a problem that is much greater than the IRFU’s power to resolve.

    I think the comparison with the St Patrick’s flag and the Lions is actually perfectly analogous to this situation. (Indeed there may be a greater case for the tricolour to be used by the Lions, as the Lions unarguably represent the totality of the UK and the totality of the Republic of Ireland, both sovereign states that have overwhelming consensus on their national symbols.) But I don’t feel the need to make a fuss about the absence of a tricolour. I support the Lions wholeheartedly.

    In this respect, I imagine I’m, again, rather like the unionist at Lansdowne Road.

    All those evenings on the terraces at Ravenhill have helped me understand that a little goodwill goes a long way; and it can be surprising, in this place, to find how much of it there is around.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Mike

    Apologies for the length of previous posts. Will keep this one short. Same question as I asked of Alan.

    What do you think should be recognised in the symbolism of the IRFU: Northern Ireland, or the unionist community?

  • Alan N/Ards

    Billy

    The topic of this thread is the percieved and at times real lack of respect for nationalist traditions in NI. I have no problem admitting that thier are unionist’s out there who have no respect for your tradition. At the same time, you and I know that it is a two way street and the lack of respect to fans of the all ireland rugger team from a unionist or british tradition is ignored by nationalism. The treatment of the non nationalist irish rugby fan is like the familes who were embarrassed by the son, daughter, aunt etc who was not the full shilling (so to speak). They would have them committed to an institution and pretend to the rest of the world that they didn’t exist. There is this pretence that NI and unionism does does not exist. Somebody once said that (not sure who) that you can’t be irish and be a unionist. The two do not go together. Maybe he was right.

    The lack of understanding towards the Birtish irish who support the all ireland team is practically non existant. To be honest I have found this debate pretty depressing. I had a conversation with a elderly man more than 30 years ago. He said to me that nationalism is about domination. There way is only way and that they will never give you an inch. They well expect you to fit in around them and beg for a the crumbs of their table. Maybe he too was right.

    Thanks for your civilty in the debate Bill and you to JR but I need to finish it now before my wife has me committed.

  • FuturePhysicist

    What do you think should be recognised in the symbolism of the IRFU: Northern Ireland, or the unionist community?
    ————————————————————————————-
    I believe the shamrock is an ecumenical enough symbol for the whole of Ireland.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Alan

    Fair enough. I disagree with many of your assumptions and conclusions, but I respect the genuine strength of your feelings.

    Perhaps we can pursue these issues in the future, but for now, many thanks.

  • Mike the First

    Billy

    No need to apologise for lengthy posts, I am guilty of the same myself! I’ll respond to your longer post when I have a bit more time to reply properly, but do your question…

    “What do you think should be recognised in the symbolism of the IRFU: Northern Ireland, or the unionist community?”

    …my answer is, Northern Ireland – if they’re going down that road. The IRFU should use the official symbols of NI, or those that are normally used to represent NI in the sporting arena (Commonwealth Games, international football). What they shouldn’t do is assign symbols that do not and never have represented NI to “represent” it.

    Alternatively, they could go back to their original, sensible policy of representing not both or one states, but simply the island and its rugby team. The IRFU flag is a good symbol (there are others to choose from, e.g. the four provinces flag or St Patrick flag perhaps), Hockey and cricket do likewise. That’s what they did at the 2007 RWC before the two flags were brought in for last year’s RWC. (and I’m certainly not complaining about the two flags principle, it works for me, just the execution in terms of one of the actual flags chosen).

  • Mike the First

    Billy (addressing your longer post) –

    “I never said it did. So the use of two flags and two anthems is appropriate.”

    Well, the use of two flags is appropriate if there’s a genuine attempt to represent both states on the island. As for two anthems, ditto – certainly not though if it’s the ROI anthem and a team anthem!

    “No, but it IS non-controversial, and it DOES represent, in at least some fashion, those players who are not from the Republic and who don’t feel that the other flag used by the IRFU – i.e. the tricolour – represents them. While I understand that some might prefer the GoNI flag instead, no-one actually objects to the provincial banner.”

    It is controversial in this context, and I for one object strongly to using it to represent NI . I don’t think many unionists would accept it as representing their country, and for that matter I don’t think many nationalists/republicans would accept it as a “six county” symbol.

    “The tricolour is uncontroversial in the Republic. The provincial flag of Ulster is uncontroversial in NI.”

    It’s very controversial if purporting to represent Northern Ireland – as indeed the FAI found out last year when they temporarily put it up before having their mistake pointed out!

    ” I acknowledge that the two are not equivalents, and that this is an inelegant solution, but this is a problem for the people of Northern Ireland, where we do not have agreed symbols, as they have in the south. It would be wrong to expect the IRFU to take sides in this northern-specific dispute.”

    The IRFU are taking sides by using the 9 county Ulster flag. They’re saying, we could just use one flag (the IRFU flag), but we have to or want to pander to southern/nationalist opinion, so we’re going to use the Tricolour, and since we’ll then have to use a second flag, we’re going to use one that isn’t related to Northern Ireland and on the political scene is used almost exclusively by nationalists.

    “Because then the IRFU would be intervening in a northern-specific dispute. If we ever have shared, uncontroversial symbols in NI, I’m certain the IRFU will be the first to use them, as they presently use the shared, uncontroversial if imperfect symbols we do have. That we have no such symbols is an issue for the people of Northern Ireland, not the IRFU.”

    The IRFU are intervening by using the 9 county flag rather than the flag that represents Northern Ireland in the sporting arena. It also strikes me that there’s a “two bites of the cherry” situation going on here – northern nationalists are able to say that their national flag is the tricolour, but also have the (Gov of) NI flag vetoed.

    “But is nevertheless a hugely controversial one. It cannot be said to represent Northern Ireland, if by ‘Northern Ireland’ you mean the people who actually live here.”

    Neither can the 9 county Ulster flag though.

    “I wouldn’t say it’s a bad effort. Rather it’s an honest effort and an imperfect solution to a problem that is much greater than the IRFU’s power to resolve.”

    I think it’s a very bad effort, and my reaction has always been that it’s basically (excuse the colloquialism) “taking the piss”. There’s a perfectly good flag the IRFU use to represent the team, but they’ve decided clearly because they want the Tricolour involved, to have two flags – but without actually representing NI.

    “I think the comparison with the St Patrick’s flag and the Lions is actually perfectly analogous to this situation. (Indeed there may be a greater case for the tricolour to be used by the Lions, as the Lions unarguably represent the totality of the UK and the totality of the Republic of Ireland, both sovereign states that have overwhelming consensus on their national symbols.) But I don’t feel the need to make a fuss about the absence of a tricolour. I support the Lions wholeheartedly.”

    I think the way I’ve phrased this has misled you – the Lions don’t use the St Patrick flag. As you say, there is a good case for the Lions to use the Union Flag and the Tricolour. Instead their approach is that they use one set of symbols representing the team. My point was to imagine what the reaction would be if the Lions organisers decided to go for two flags (because they wanted the Union Flag displayed), but insisted that the Tricolour was controversial, so the St Patrick flag would be used alongside the Union Flag. That’s pretty close to what the IRFU have done.

  • stewart1

    Can the rugby discussion be kept to a rugby thread. It’s irrelevant to the topic at hand.

  • Mike the First

    Stewart1

    I think you can leave the policing of discussions to Slugger Admin.

    And if you read the header and original post, you’ll see the relevance.