On McIlroy: “Let me rephrase that . . . Can I . . . actually I’ll just repeat the question”

I’ve little time for the circular arguments that still go on around Rory McIlroy’s sense of his own nationality. For some people, it seems, he is allowed any nationality he wants as long as it is one shade of green or another. But the boy has spoken on the subject. Dion Fanning puts it perfectly:

Those who still act as if there is a meaningful debate sound like Alan Partridge when he meets Tony Hayers to discuss a second series. Alan is given every indication that he won’t get a second series when he asks directly and says, , have I got a second series?”

They are as deep in denial as Partridge and close to doing the sporting equivalent of shrieking “smell my cheese, you mother” and running through the BBC canteen.

Last week on RTE, they again referred to McIlroy as ‘Irish’ when, in his latest interview on the subject, he had pointed out that he considers himself Northern Irish.

“If I could and there was a Northern Irish team, then I’d play for Northern Ireland. I feel Northern Irish, and obviously you have a connection to Ireland and to the UK.”

This seems to be a difficult one for some to grasp. We rightly condemn the abuse a player like James McClean receives when he declares for Ireland and is tormented by bigots in the North but it is harder for us to allow McIlroy to have his position.

  • carl marks

    Question, does he have to pick a nationality, what are the criteria for stateless athletes (is that the right term) I’m just being curious.
    People should get off his back, with his talent and money he can more or less do what he wants, we get a world class figure who is also a nice guy and a credit to us, and then we try to get him to take sides in our little local fuckup.

  • Mick Fealty
  • carl marks

    aw well just a thought.
    if he marries his lady could he play for her country?
    just curious, I know very little about these things.

  • keano10


    Coming from a Nationalist background I honestly dont know a single person (friends or relatives) who give a monkey’s whether McIlroy declares for Ireland or Britain at The Olympics. Absolutely no-one.

    If ever there was a media-contrived issue, then this is surely it. The media have succeeded in winding up McIlroy at Press Conferences over this but virtually nobody else gives a hoot.

    I suspect that certain quarters who are peddling to use the issue of a seperate “Northern Irish” are using McIlroy as a pawn in all of this. I dont believe that McIlroy himself would want any part of that. Hopefully he will catch on to this sooner or later.

    Sham fight I’m afraid…

  • keano10

    “Northern Irish identity” i meant to say

  • Mr Fealty has already drawn attention to the Dutch Antilles but as I understand it that’s just paperwork which will be sorted out before the next Olympics.
    Chinese Taipei …as OIC calls it…might be a better example.
    As I understand it, athletes can be invited by the IOC President himself. I think there was some fuss around twenty years ago when Seb Coe did not qualify and the President wanted him specially invited. someone else might know those details better than me.
    But as the IOC is all about national Olympic committees and The position of Ireland ….see the Wikipedia entry…at times the subject of debate…..I can’t see any way that Rory could compete as an individual under the OLympic Flag ( he certainly couldn’t compete under a NI flag)…..he is not stateless, he actually has a choice.
    And the fall out would be massive. It is conceivable of course that some of those athletes who competed for Ireland and Britain might have preferred to represent NI but…surely the same could be said for Welsh and Scottish athletes and who is going to open that can of worms.
    There are people who might regard themselves as Biafran, Katangan, Bavarian, Siberian, Turkish Cypriot….it’s just not going to happen.

  • FDM

    I think Rory is very representative of all of our early twenty something multi-multi-millionaire sport stars.

    I think the Unionist parties can rely on ALL the votes from this massive group.

    I predict a massive Unionist upsurge of one vote in the next set of elections, if Rory is at home that day and can be bothered to use his vote [which he may or may not be entitled to depending on his residency].

    I think this should be a major drive from the Unionist Forum to make sure that Rory registers to vote.

    This Catholic unicorn multi-multi-millionaire golf sports star vote has been ignored for too long!

  • JR

    If you have little time for it why stirr it up again? He is a golfer, he wants to play golf. So what if rté refers to him as Irish? When has he ever said don’t call me Irish? He was born on a Rock in the atlantic called Ireland.

  • otto

    Last week on RTE, they again referred to McIlroy as ‘Irish’ when, in his latest interview on the subject, he had pointed out that he considers himself Northern Irish.

    “If I could and there was a Northern Irish team, then I’d play for Northern Ireland. I feel Northern Irish, and obviously you have a connection to Ireland and to the UK.”


    I missing the point. I think it might just be hidden away in your big brain Mick.

    “I’m Northern Irish” says Rory “obviously you have a connection to IRELAND ….. AND …. THE UK.”

    What’s wrong with that? I too am Northern Irish. Which makes me Irish and also makes me British. Which one’s ethnic, which one’s historical constitutional happenstance, which one’s choice, is really not my problem. You work it out. I’m not sure I care.

    Why insist that Northern Irish is NOT things (like Irish) when it is quite obviously both – at least for the time-being as we’re apparently not doing polls now. It’s just rude for a start. Who really thinks the Mayo lady with the really hard to spell name on the new RTE/BBC holiday show is a foreigner? She’s a neighbour in the same street, just not in the same house.

    Basil tells us he can’t change the past and we need cross-county compromises for everyone. Conall tells us today to get on with loving each other, owning up to stuff and building a productive shared economy. John’s writing beautiful speeches for people in Louth telling them that if Northern Irish doesn’t mean all 1.8 Million of us it doesn’t mean Northern Irish – as he sees Northern Irish as a place and the people who live there – even if they’re Northern Irish Republicans.

    I’m happy with that.

    The more Northern Irish people we can get into both the Irish and GB teams the merrier. No-one bores on about Bangor and Carrick prods sailing for Ireland – did they have to pass a loyalty test first? Nope – they get it because they’re the best sailors on this Island (in their class).

    As Boris might say, the GFA-NI policy on the sports cake should be both pro-having it and pro-eating it.

    And the Irish have been claiming people for ever without making political connections – that’s your right when you’ve exported so many. Irish people claim a bit of Obama but there aren’t telling him that means he’s not allowed to be African-American anymore and that the US should really belong to Ireland. Same with Rory. They’re just happy to have the connection. It’s fun.

    Making a big thing of Rory being “Northern Irish” in our context would be distancing and rude.

  • The Raven

    I’m going to put myself into a circular argument by saying:

    1. I’m disappointed this even merits a thread, and what Rory can do whatever he wants;


    2: I’m disappointed in myself for reading all of this, and subsequently responding to it, to which I refer to (1).

    I couldn’t help myself. I must be Northern Irish.

  • Mick Fealty

    I thought it was funny. I’ll get me coat…

  • carl marks

    The Raven

    good one!

  • FDM

    Basil McCrea has just opened a new golf store and is putting a six-foot high cardboard display of Rory McIlroy riding a unicorn [in a nice way] in the front window.

    Free London tube maps for the first quota of Catholics to come through the door and sign in blood to the new Unicorn Covenant.

    All of the above is true.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    If you have little time for it why stirr it up again? He is a golfer, he wants to play golf. So what if rté refers to him as Irish? When has he ever said don’t call me Irish? He was born on a Rock in the atlantic called Ireland.

    …..which is part of the British Isles.

  • FDM


    …..which is part of the British Isles.


    Och you are just showing off because you got a CSE in geography.

    Can you tell me where Craigavon is?

    I have been looking for over 20 years. I know I have been close because the signs always tell me I am only a few miles from it.

    Please help.

  • jagmaster

    He’s a typical wishy washy golfer. I just wish he’d make his mind up and spare us the dramatics.

  • FDM

    Used to be “he kicks with his left foot” or “he kicks with his right foot”.

    Rory has clubbed feet.

    I’ll get me coat.

  • carl marks

    heres a lot of coats being got here!

  • FDM

    Rory McIlroy is a swing voter.

    Coat please!

  • willieric

    ”McClean……bigots from the north”????????? grow up….imagine the abuse he, and his family, would receive from his immediate neighbours if he opted for Northern Ireland. I understand his choices and agree with them totally. McIroy lived in a mixed area and attended a non-catholic grammar school which is why he is what he is. The real heroes are those fearless derry born sportspeople who represent the uk and northern ireland.

  • FDM


    The real heroes are those fearless derry born sportspeople who represent the uk and northern ireland


    Man I stood up, saluted, ran the flag up the pole and was just about to tool up and invade Argentina after reading that post.

    You do realise that “The Victor Book for Boys” is actually a comic and that you shouldn’t be using it as scripture?

  • Alanbrooke

    Rory mac and G Mac should go on TV with a pact that one will represent UK and the other Ireland then flip a coin to see who does what.

    It neutralises the choice conundrum and lets us all enjoy two top class golfers in the Olympics.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    He couldn’t make it any clearer he’s Northern Irish first. But what are we, 15 years now almost after everyone recognised NI’s legitimacy in the GFA? And some of those same people are now pretending they can carry on as before with the age old nonsense. It seems to stick in the craw of the average RTE presenter to say ‘Northern Ireland’, which is truly hilarious (if we’re looking for some laffs here …). What percentage of the Republic’s electorate voted for it?!

  • babyface finlayson

    An excellent idea. Could we decide the constitutional issue in the same way?

  • Neil

    Nice idea Alanbrooke. I, like everyone I know, couldn’t give a toss what nationality/nationalities he decides to embrace, if any.

  • BluesJazz

    Gmac wouldn’t make the Uk team. With Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose, only Rory would make it. Gmac has the plan b of joining the Irish Republic team. A bit like mediocre English footballers opting for the RoI football team.

  • Ruarai

    Mick you say:

    I’ve little time for the circular arguments that still go on around Rory McIlroy’s sense of his own nationality.

    So why is this your second post on the subject?

    Of the dozens of articles and blogs on this subject, haven’t they all just said: “Personally, I don’t care about his choice. Leave him alone.” Yet people keep writing about how little they care- wtf?

    Maybe I’ve missed something but can anyone point to a single article or even blog post or comment where someone has given criticism of his choices/pending decision?

    Seems like the whole subject is just a cover for everyone to advertize their own self-image as tolerant.

    Isn’t the consensus overwhelmingly that we all admire his achievements, respect the privacy of his choices and simply wish him well?

    Suggestion: let’s stop talking about the suppossed talking about the guy’s identity and just enjoy his golf.No one is doing the later, too many posts on the former, role on the Ryder Cup.

  • FDM

    The big point is for me is its hard to take any reference to Rory McIlroy seriously.

    The kid knocks a white dimpled plastic thing around a field and puts it into a hole.

    Put frankly, the golf boat left and I wasn’t on it. I was however civil enough to wave them off.

    I don’t doubt he does the “knocking the white dimpled plastic thing around a field and puts it into a hole” mularkey better than anyone. Good for him.

    Nor for one minute do I begrudge him any monies he gets for doing it.

    However I do have to draw the line that I have to in some way “follow Rory’s lead” or indeed use him as some political Rosetta stone to understand myself, my community, or the future.

    He’s just a kid who plays good golf.

    As a scientist myself, I fall over laughing at people trying to extrapolate anything quantitative or qualitative from Rory’s [very limited] political statements and behaviours to the wider Catholic population.

    Look at it scientifically. The test case is one subject. The subject is not part of the bell distribution of the population. This multi-multi-millionaire sports star is not under any general population distribution. The kids all out there on his own, off the charts.

    For the Unionists envisioning Rory as some sort of Messianic figure, a lifeboat in a sea of troubles, that represents the saving of Ulster from the republican horde, well, scientfically speaking good luck with that.

    Role model? I can’t remember having pictures of Lee Trevino on my wall. Nor did I think that Stuart Adamson, the lead singer with Big Country, was a spiritual leader [god rest his soul].

    Life is lived subjectively and who the hell do you know who has had a life like Rory McIlroy? However with the medecine comes the sugar. I am nearly certain Rory will vote Alliance. 🙂

  • Jagmaster. It’s something McIlroy brought on himself with that interview with the Daily Mail. Nobody forced him into that and he’s been backtracking like crazy since.

  • Alias

    The interesting aspect about Northern Ireland is that the state came into being before the nation, whereas the normal order is that the nation exists before its state. In Northern Ireland, it has taken about 100 years to engineer a Northern Irish nation for the state of Northern Ireland.

    Rory McIlroy is its first (hesitant) poster boy. Northern Irish, of course, isn’t a nationality. The GFA concerns itself with the nationalities of Irish and British but offers no protections or concessions whatsoever to the Northern Irish. It is now emerging as a nation, and may even become a nationality in due course.

    It seems to gain its members from the weaker of the two nationalities in Northern Ireland. This is hardly surprising given that the weaker nationality is under constant attack with none of its tribal elders promoting it, and all of them conceding that its must be disposed of and replaced with some alternative nation that is to be created from a merger of the two tribes. This new nation which is to replace the Irish nation is also to have new symbols such as new flag and anthem and also to have a new constitution for its new state.

    It is this ‘neutralisation’ of the Irish identity which has allowed the engineering of the Northern Irish identity from the Irish identity. That’s why 46% of Northern Ireland’s population is Catholic but only 25% of its population now holds an Irish identity.

    The weaker of the two has collapsed first.

  • FDM


    “It seems to gain its members from the weaker of the two nationalities in Northern Ireland”.

    ‘neutralisation’ of the Irish identity.


    That weak Irish nationality that has survived 100s of years of overt supression by those pesky British types and not only survives but looks to the future optimistically.

    And all you can latch on to is poor little Rory, who never asked for your attentions in the first place.

    I dare say if you were given the option Alias then neutralisation of the Irish would certainly be your preferrred option. We understood your implication well.

    Your posts seeth with contempt and unrestrained hatred for all things Irish. I wonder at what happened to you, for you to be this way.

  • babyface finlayson

    “As a scientist myself, I fall over laughing at people trying to extrapolate anything quantitative or qualitative from Rory’s [very limited] political statements and behaviours to the wider Catholic population.”
    As a scientist, you presumably have evidence of such extrapolation?

  • Henry94

    Northern Ireland won’t be at the Olympics so he will have to opt for Britain or Ireland or neither. Like keano10 I see this as a media contrived issue. We are lucky to have such a great talent to support at the highest level. If he opts for Britain then as far as I’m concerned he’ll still be the Irish guy at his next major. I couldn’t imagine refusing to cheer for him.. Northern Irishness if it has any meaning at all is as a subset of Britishness. I see no distinction there. It’s not as if an independent Northern Ireland could ever be allowed.

  • Alias

    But will you get a second series?

  • FDM


    about extrapolation…

    “Rory McIlroy is its first (hesitant) poster boy”

    “FIRST hesitatant…”

    Extrapolation in evidence and I didn’t even have to leave the same thread. The case for the prosecution rests.

  • carl marks

    For god’s sake wind your necks in boys its only golf.

  • Alias

    FDM, as another poster pointed out, it is only 15 years since the overwhelming majority of Northern Ireland’s population formally recognised the legitimacy of its existence. That is a milestone.

    As for the Catholics, the Northern Irish identity is a subset of the creation of Northern Ireland. To recognise the legitimacy that identity is to recognise the legitimacy of Northern Ireland. They have done the latter, and the former will follow on from that in due course.

    I suspect that it’ll be very ‘cool’ to be Northern Irish in 10 or 15 years. It is already very uncool to be Irish. Indeed, all of the ‘nationalist’ tribal elders in Northern Ireland advocate the disposal of the Irish identity and its replacement with a new identity that has yet to to be engineered.

    They’ve all been hollowed out from the inside…

  • FDM

    I did say he was a swing voter.

    I thought that would have sated the even-handed/not-so-evenhanded/bitter/Alias.

    But 🙁 no.

    As Rory will no doubt explain just before the next PGA tour.

    “I’m not the Messiah, I am just a golfer from Hollywood (LA).”

  • babyface finlayson

    Well done.
    In my defence that post from Alias only popped up after I hit submit.
    And technically Alias is extrapolating to people in general who identify as Northern Irish, not the wider catholic population.
    But I will let it go. It was the ‘as a scientist’ bit that got me. Reminded me of toothpaste ads…’as a dentist…’

  • FDM

    Alias (profile)

    23 January 2013 at 10:19 pm

    “It is already very uncool to be Irish.”


    Seeth, seeh, seeth.

    Lets look at a subset of Irish actors alone.

    As Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleason, Colm Meaney, Aiden Quinn, Pierce Brosnan, Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, Gabriel Byrne etc… would be sure to tell you. You are obviously correct that it is indeed uncool to be Irish.

    Thats why all those American studios pay these uncool guys to be the leads in their multi-million dollar movies.

    I have had more sense from lunatics than we have had from you this night.

    Spare us your insights, insults and ethnic hatreds. I think we have all had enough of your spleen filled invective.

  • mollymooly

    If Scotland votes for independence, I wonder whether the BBC in London will still call Andy Murray, Chris Hoy, etc. British. Maybe it will be on a case-by-case basis, based on how they vote in the referendum.

  • Neil

    Maybe it will be on a case-by-case basis, based on how they vote in the referendum.

    More likely based on whether or not they’re winning at the time.

  • FDM

    Elvis Costello always said when he did something good or won an award he was either British and/or Liverpudlian but when he did something bad he was “the Irish artist” Elvis Costello.

    We have seen it all before. Its nothing new.

    To be honest I wish Rory all the best. I agree with carl that it is not something to get really worked up about.

  • 6crealist

    This tortured soul thing is doing my head in.

    McIlroy will do as his sponsors tell him. End of.

  • Gopher

    Some guys from Northern Ireland represent the Republic, others GB and we cheered them all on well I did anyway. As Northern Ireland is a country of sports lovers or as Sam McAughtry said “punters have no politics” we like to cheer the story. Plenty of competitors from the Republic were cheered on Taylor and Murphy ahead of GB competitors. Sure if there is a story Like Mo Farrah or Ainslie its not a hatred of Irish that cheers them on ahead of an Irish competitor, Its because they are the best in their field because they are characters because they have personality and off course we can identify with them as much. The same people will be cheering Ireland on in the six nations unless of course they have backed France

  • Rory Carr

    Whichever, if either, UK or RoI, team McIlroy chooses to play for in the next Olympics, his national identity will not be chosen by him except insofar as his performance will elicit from the BBC commentator confirmation that (if he happens to win a medal) he is British and, if he does not, that he is a “plucky little Irishman”.

  • Seamus Chichester-Clarke

    Rory Mc will do what many before have….. He’ll get seriously peeved at the small minded, twisted, self seeking, mis-quoting Bigots, that infest this spot on God’s Arse.
    Result = Reside in U.S. for time required and declare for the States.

    If he came back to here he couldn’t get from his Folk’s Home to Ravenhill without Fleggers and Dissidents attempting to wipe out families.

    Stay in the Sun, Rory Boy ! We love you !

  • Gopher

    He will still be Northern Irish whatever the RTE and BBC or anyone chooses to call him because that is how he defines himself. As someone from Northern Ireland it is his right to chose who to represent. Whichever he chooses Im still cheering him on.

  • GEF

    I doubt he cares anymore what RTE or BBC choose to call him, or anyone else for that matter, he is enjoying himself along with Caroline in the Alps.

    Rory Mcilroy ‏@McIlroyRory Not a bad view to wake up to! Gonna have a few great days in the Alps with @CaroWozniacki pic.twitter.com/3HHDCEFo

  • Rory Carr

    Young McIlroy really needn’t fuss overmuch. My oldest brother plays golf incessantly. He’s in his mid-seventies now and still winning tournaments.

    It’s an embarrassment as you might imagine, but not so serious an embarrassment that the rest of the family don’t speak to him.

    And of course it makes choosing Christmas and birthday gifts pretty simple – there you go, kid, a packet of three tees !

  • gary oh

    First of all, Golf shouldn’t be at the olympics along with basketball, soccer and tennis. He is entitled to play for anyone he wants. The pressure the poor guy Is under is ridiculous. I agree with other posters in so far as I do feel it is media contrived. I’m from the south myself and its not a huge issue down here. But then again we don’t get as wound up about trivial things like our northern brethren.

  • gary oh

    Every country claims people that don’t belong to them. Indeed bluejazz could tell that the northern ireland football team is full of english, welsh and scotsmen that couldn’t make the grade for their own with a canadian as well. England have ivorians and jamicans on their team.

  • BarneyT

    Rory perhaps needed a bit of advice to start with regarding some of the sensitivities. He has adorned the flag that unofficually represents Northern Ireland, despite having previously represented Ireland. I am not sure if he donned the tricolour in his amateur days.

    My advice today would be, consider yourself Northern Irish and by extension elect to join the GB team (which really should be called the UK team if indeed NI is a subset of the UK)

    He could risk getting Neil Lennonesque threaths if he now elects to go with Team Ireland. That would be my personal advice.

    Had I had his ear initially, I would have asked him to stay clear of contentious flags, particularly one associated with loyalism. That wee horse has bolted. I would also have suggested that he plays for Team Ireland giving his amateur involvement with the all Ireland body.

  • It is not just Golf coming into the Olympics that has thrown up this problem. There is also Rugby sevens. I’m actually suprised that most of the debate about representation has only concentrated on McIlroy.

    For English, Scottish and Welsh players, it will be a bit like being called up to represent the Lions. However, it may be a problem for some of the Ulster players who may feel compromised in representing ROI befause their part of Ireland is not being represented.

    The issue over McIlroy is really a sectarian problem dressed up as a regionalist problem. When a Northern Irish Protestant represents the Republic of Ireland or when a Catholic represents the UK, this sort of nonsense is likely occur again.

    Fortunately, those in denial that Dion Fanning refers to are a shrinking minority.

  • Skinner

    Can anyone explain why it is of any relevance that he previously played for the governing body that represents the whole of Ireland?

    That governing body and the Republic of Ireland Olympic team are two seperate things. Therefore McIlroy opting to play for the UK would not represent any ‘defection’ at all. In fact playing for the Republic of Ireland when he is not from there would be odd and I’m not surprised that he has expressed a disinclination to do it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Point of information. It is NOT the ROI Olympic team, it is Team Ireland! Team GB is actually Team GB and NI.

    NI is genuinely an over lap territory at the Olympics.

    Otherwise your point about GUI not having a senior representative team of its own is sound.

    And btw those who think this is just another post about Rory, it’s not.

  • Gopher

    @Seymour James

    Several people from a protestant background represented the Republic at the 2012 and other olympics and there was absolutely no mention of any nonsense. The local press before the Olympics was always running favorable stories on who from here was representing the Republic. The only contraversy I remember was a girl who did not get selected from here despite having better times or something.

  • GEF

    Why can Rory not just enter the Olympics in 2016 as an independent? Explainer: Why are there four Olympic athletes with no country in the 2012? There were four athletes competing under the Olympic flag, with no country to represent. Here’s how that came about.