Team Ireland, Team GB, or both?

Eamonn Mallie has posed the question ‘Are you a bigot?‘ on his site after noticing that the political preferences of people in the north have seemed to determine their enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for Olympic competitors representing Team Ireland or Team GB in London.

Mark Devenport has picked up the theme with an opinion piece on the BBC website, which includes a wonderful photo of two children walking side by side whilst draped in the National flags of Ireland and Britain.

When discussing the matter with Eamonn Mallie, William Crawley had barely finished speaking with the proud father of the now two-time Olympic medallist, Paddy Barnes, when an irate unionist caller rang in to complain about boxers representing a “foreign country” on The Nolan Show this morning. 

And on it goes.

I have written about this subject before when I noted how the symmetrical triumph of the local 2008 Olympic medallists, Paddy Barnes and Wendy Houvenaghel, provided a beacon of hope and pointed us towards a future where embracing the right of individuals to determine their own identity is celebrated without reservation or hindrance.

The message from 2012 is surely that we are the rowers of Coleraine and the boxers of Belfast (and, for some, Katie Taylor, Jessica Ennis or both.)

That’s a painful conclusion for some to reach- never mind accept- so it is understandable that many remain in their respective comfort zones.

Yet it remains the logical outworkings of the Good Friday Agreement and the very premise upon which our future society will be constructed.

Unlike Eamonn, I have noted with some optimism how local people have embraced the achievements of Irish and British athletes in the past fortnight without a sense of malice for ‘the other.’

For some (myself included), the achievements of Team Ireland athletes have meant the most, though I was heartily rooting for the Coleraine rowers and adopted several other Team GB athletes (including the men’s basketball team) during the course of the glorious London Olympics that shall be soon a thing of the past.

Indeed, the story of Alan Chambers’ Christmas morning training sessions will form the basis of many motivational talks in my classroom for years to come.

Having said that, I do think it is wrong to suggest that those unionists who exclusively support Team GB or nationalists professing loyalty only to Team Ireland competitors are ‘bigots.’

Short-sighted in a political sense? Yes, but not justifiable grounds for attaching the harsh bigoted label.




    1. ROI citizenship law applies to anyone born on the island of Ireland including Northern Ireland. It can grant Irish citizenship to someone who has never set foot in the ROI.

    2. The question was not whether your grandparents were ROI citizens but whether they were Irish citizens. Your continuing use of the term ROI makes me suspect that they were indeed Irish citizens but that you have difficulty accepting that. Of course if you grandparents were Irish citizens, then it is likely that your parents were also Irish citizens at one time. And if your parents were Irish citizens …..

  • sonofstrongbow

    It appears, on this forum at least, that the celebration of Katie Taylor’s gold medal, Team Ireland’s first I believe, has been somewhat muted.

    Now I confess that I have no interest in the ‘sport’ of boxing however I recognise the dedication and effort needed to achieve a medal win at the Olympics.

    Could it be that as a non-Catholic with an English father Ms Taylor does not fit the Irish Coleen template?

    Might it be that some Irish Nationalists allow their disrespect of all things that do not fit their mono-cultural view of ‘Irishness’ surface south of the border on occasion?

  • Blue Hammer


    So your position is that since RoI made some law, naturally only applicable within its jurisdiction, it can unilaterally apply that law outside its jurisdiction as it sees fit? If China introduced a similar law, would you contend that under that law I am Chinese? Palpable nonsense. ROI can grant citizenship ON APPLICATION to anyone meeting its eligibility criteria. It cannot force it on someone already a citizen of another country.

    My grandparents were born, all four of them in the period 1899-1906. All in Belfast, Ireland, UK. Hence at birth they were UK citizens. That was reflected in their passports etc. my parents, both born in Belfast to British parents in 1946/8, were British by birth, again as evidenced by their passports, census returns etc. Thus I, born in Belfast of British parents, am British by birth. No current plans to apply for citizenship of any other country, let alone our friends in the south.

  • Republic of Connaught


    That post, and the other one from the super loyalist who hates Ireland and the Irish (but lives on an island called Ireland), only magnify the sickness that exists in the north of Ireland among some.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Republic of Connaught,

    Perhaps you would reprise your posting on the Slugger ‘Katie Taylor gold medal thread’?

  • Youknowho

    “Could it be that as a non-Catholic with an English father Ms Taylor does not fit the Irish Coleen template? Might it be that some Irish Nationalists allow their disrespect of all things that do not fit their mono-cultural view of ‘Irishness’ surface south of the border on occasion?”

    Perhaps that’s true in Northern Ireland, whose Irish community understandably have their own issues, but Seán Bán Breathnach’s reaction speaks for all of us in the Republic, who don’t care that she’s not Catholic or has an English parent – she’s one of our own.

  • Blue Hammer


    Just because you live in a stable doesn’t make you a horse.

    Love some evidence of your allegation that I hate Ireland or the Irish. I have previously expressed my love of Donegal and its golf courses. I despise the attitude of certain Irish people that rejects 1m of what it claims to be its people, and expects them to sims subsume into the great “Irish nation” and forget their British heritage.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Son of….

    Don’t try to hide from your sick and twised post.

    Kate Taylor is an absolute hero to every Irish man and woman for what she has achieved.

    The sick sectarian nature of your post makes me puke,

  • Youknowho

    Bluehammer – relax. There is no great pull among citizens of the Republic to incorporate Northern Ireland into its state. Please don’t believe all you hear from Sinn Fein.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Blue Hammer,

    No one is disputing your British heritage. The fact that, unlike many other northern Protestants, you aren’t comfortable with an Irish and British indentity is your problem, not mine.

    We’ll survive without ya.

  • Blue Hammer


    I know that in the political sense.

    But in terms of sports, etc, Team Ireland is portrayed as a 32 county outfit, but whose flags and emblems reflect only the 26 county state.

    My face seems to be going blue.

  • sonofstrongbow


    Thanks for the link, but Maud Gonne, really?


    I’m not hiding. It seems, if your hysterical reaction is anything to go by, that I have touched something latent in you at least.

    Btw, still waiting for your ‘gold’ post.

  • Youknowho

    Fair enough.

    I don’t have a problem with an all-island sports team of any description, but I have yet to be convinced that a united Ireland is in the best interests of either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Son of…

    Your post viewed through the eyes of a Southern Irish person was sick.

    The whole country was in celebration yesterday for what she achieved. I don’t need to post anything to prove my pride in the girl to sick people like you. in NI

  • Blue Hammer


    Trust me, it’s no problem to me.

    Your refusal to be comfortable with this island’s joint Irish and British heritage frames the problem perfectly.

    Whether you’ll survive without us remains to be seen. Need a few billion to stay afloat while EU gang-rapes you? A nation once again indeed.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Blue Hammer aka Johnny Adair,

    Considering da province in bailed out to the tune of 10 blllion from the kindly English taxpayer every single year, the irony of your post is comical.


  • Blue Hammer

    Below contempt RoC

    Adios indeed.

  • Dec


    ‘Perhaps that’s true in Northern Ireland, whose Irish community understandably have their own issues, but Seán Bán Breathnach’s reaction speaks for all of us in the Republic, who don’t care that she’s not Catholic or has an English parent – she’s one of our own. ‘

    It’s not true, she’s a national heroine across the Island. Son of Strongbow (the cider) is just doing what he does, trolling from a drop-in centre somewhere in Tullycarnet.

  • Youknowho

    Dec – Fair enough.

  • sonofstrongbow


    Given that you’re obviously unable to reply to my comment with anything other than sectarian personal abuse I’ll leave you to it.

    I note that you’ve been joined in your ad hominem attack by another stalwart defender of everything Nationalist.

    I leave you in his loving embrace.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Son of,..

    You’ve revealed a sick mind at work and I’ll leave you to it. Blaming me for your puke post won’t hide the truth.

  • gary oh

    Honest to god fellas relax. Katie taylor is the queen of the republic. Eleven percent of team GBs team are non UK born. They still love month farrah and brad wiggins. Even the german guy that cheated at the cycling. If I was from NI I would wonder why its GBR on their shirts and its almost always mentioned as team GB. So team Ireland and team GB are guilty of the same offences. Blue hammer ask the average irish citizen about northern ireland and its usually a meh, who cares. I often feel there arrogant up there to think we would want to share a country with them.

  • Youknowho

    I’m teasing you here, Gary Oh, but is’nt the term “queen of the republic” a contradiction in terms? But you’re right, she is!

  • gary oh

    Younowho, now that u mention it correct and right. What a fight by paddy barnes. He was v unlucky to get beat at countback which I didn’t know anything about. He done so well against a top class athlete. What an improvement. He done ireland proud.

  • gary oh

    Irelands john joe nevin against englands luke campbell tomorrow in the final. I reckon the irish lad will have to knock him out to get a draw. Luke has home advantage.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    ‘Perhaps that’s true in Northern Ireland…’

    That’s absolutely not true in NI. Northern nationalists are greeting Katie’s wonderful victory with exactly the same unalloyed jubilation as the rest of the country.

    Just like northern nationalists responded with unalloyed jubilation when the Shankill’s finest, Wayne McCullough, won a silver for our country in Barcelona.

    Strongbow Óg is not a troll, but he’s not above a bit of trolling either, as we see with this bit of unashamed hatefulness.

    He knows full well there isn’t a shred of truth to his claim. Look at his methodology:

    ‘It appears, ON THIS FORUM AT LEAST that the celebration … has been somewhat muted.’ (My emphasis.)

    Ignore the vast, open-air crowd in Bray; ignore the euphoric scenes in London; ignore every newspaper, news website, TV and radio programme on the island that has led with Katie’s win, and the celebrations; ignore the national euphoria stretching from Malin to Mizen, sparked by the wee girl from Bray.

    According to Strongbow Óg, we are witnessing proof that the Irish hate Protestants, or people with English connections, because he has deemed the REACTION ON SLUGGER to be insufficiently jubilant….

    He knows full well he’s talking rot. He’s doing it because he wants to upset you. He’s doing it because he wants to ruin your happiness. He’s doing it because he
    hates you.

    He should be ashamed, but he won’t be.

  • neutralist

    Excellent post — reminiscent of your famous demolition of Ruth Dudley Edwards of some years ago. Nail hit squarely on the head as usual.
    What amazes me is the visceral distaste of some of the unionist posters towards any expression of all Irelandism.
    I would suspect Freudian projection on SOS’s part: he is mightily spooked at having his prejudices challenged by the manifest *lack* of prejudice evidenced by mass, Southern, Katiemania.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Billy Pilgrim,

    Mildly less hysterical than another’s poster’s reaction, but only mildly.

    As someone not above a modicum of trolling yourself you are playing to your strengths. Wild extrapolation married with the introduction of untruths designed to leave those who have not taken the time to read my original post with an erroneous impression of its contents.

    I particularly enjoyed your use of the words “proof” and “truth”. Classic Pilgrim misdirection, and here I am being circumspect mindful of Slugger’s rules.

    You correctly identified that I referred to this site alone and did not contrast the reaction to that elsewhere. I posed two questions as I thought it strange that a thread on Team Ireland’s first gold medal had attracted little comment and lots of the usual suspect posters were in a tussle over the nomenclature of Team GB and Team Ireland.

    Of course you, as did another poster, simply betray your own sectarian mindset by pretending a ‘reasoned’ response to my ‘outrage’.

    The psychological ‘anaylsis’ of my motivation is again pure Pilgrim and an old ploy of yours. I treat it with contempt.

    However if I may, and in the spirit of comradeship, I’ll indulge in a little of my own, Your ‘denuciation’ of my motives strike me as nothing short of pretty obvious projection on your part.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Fair play to young paddy – took defeat on the chin. Expected him to gurn like last time out but he was very mature in defeat. Still not sure why boxers get handed bronzes for losing but there you go…

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    I see young conway took a hell of a beating. The cuban was outstanding and only 18 too.

  • tomq

    I am Irish guy living in London. It would be accurate to categorise me as a nationalist. I had the pleasure of watching Katie Taylors fight on a large screen outside London Bridge station yesterday. It was a joy to watch, as it was to watch the great victory of Nicola Adams. Tomorrow night I will be rooting for John Joe Nevin, though I do regret that he’s fighting a British boxer as the support over here for the Irish squad has been brilliant. On hearing of Katie’s background, in terms of her Pentecostal faith and Yorkshire born Dad, I was delighted at this expression of a wider sense of Irishness than we sometimes typically assume. Ireland has changed and I hope that it keeps changing. The only qualifier to this is the experience I have had in London when I have met those who express loyalty to the mainland. More often than not introductions are frosty affairs. When asked about localities and origins, my counterparts feign ignorance, as if I have landed from planet mars. English or ‘mainland British’ people express perplexion at the attitudes and wonder why and where they come from. One only has to read some of the posts here to find out that these outdated, backward attitudes, supposedly held against a background of Christian values, are alive and well in the North of Ireland. Mr ‘ the futures bright the futures orange’ his name is Conlan you div. Some of you boys need to stop marching in circles around churches, drop those drums and get out and see the world. As well as stretching your legs a little you might even manage to stretch your minds. Go on Ireland, go on Katie Taylor, go on Nicola Adams, go on John Joe Nevin, go on Mo Farah, well done to the lads from Coleraine and well done Team GB.

  • neutralist

    A very good post, tomq. Just one minor criticism: most folk here would see Ireland as a ‘mainland’ in it’s own right.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    I’ve no idea what that rant was about… But I am glad you are so well travelled…..

    Apologies for the mistake with the name though – genuine mistake.

  • tomq

    Thanks neutralist.On the ‘mainland’ point I use it in the same sense as the song ‘On the mainland’. I was surprised by its use when first confronted with it over here.

    ‘The futures bright’ I accept the Conlon mistake but on the ‘not understanding the rant’ as you call it, that is the tragedy of all of this. Luke Campbell did well tonight and I’m happy for him (though of course I would’ve loved John Joe to do it). Listening to some people on this site ranting about ‘foreign nationals’ and differing jurisdictions within the context of the games is just so bloody depressing. A bit like when you are introduced to a lad from Tyrone over here and he looks right through you, will barely shake your hand, and when you mention County Sligo to him it’s as if you had said you were from Kazakhstan. I wish I could say that it was a ‘one off’ but that has not been the case. My point is ‘give it up for god sake’, we are neighbours and share this island. The future is anything but bright as things stand now and it seems to me that the only the only way forward is to desegregate schooling once and for all. As Ronnie Reagan said ‘tear down those walls’…