How many civic receptions does it take to make an NI controversy?

I used to enjoy soccer. I still do, on most occasions. But in the context of Northern Ireland (or Glasgow) its hard not to tire of its endless potential to create enough political toxins to kill a bull.  And here comes another one

An SDLP motion is to go before Belfast City Council next week proposing the two teams are honoured at a groundbreaking City Hall event.

However, Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers questioned the motives behind the proposal and said he would prefer “a reception for the British Isles teams which would include England and Wales”. It is the first time in football history that both teams have qualified at the same time and under managers who are both from Northern Ireland.

The motion is being proposed by the SDLP’s Declan Boyle, who said it was “a genuine and long-overdue attempt at inclusiveness and reconciliation”. He added: “I’d be surprised if anybody could vote against it.”

Ah, Mr Boyle. What can I say? Aside from noting that yesterday most of the Sinn Fein Assembly party present was driven (reluctantly in some cases) by the Assembly Chair Mitchel McLaughlin, to a standing ovation for Peter Robinson at his last First Minister’s questions.

There is of course nothing wrong with the idea in essence, not least since the Co Derry O’Neill is a former captain of Northern Ireland, but if the SDLP are serious about selling themselves as partners, a wee word with the UUP to see if it was a goer might have been useful.

Further progress for progressive nationalism could prove to be very slow indeed… [Cheer up, at least it’s not a #Fleg. You can’t eat those, remember? – Ed]



Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty