Northern Ireland shows that sport can lead as well as follow…

Last year was a blast for both parts of the island at the finals of the Euros. This year, whilst the Republic faces a steep climb to get to the second place playoffs, Northern Ireland must concentrate on pushing their rankings to get higher seed status in those playoffs.

Northern Ireland has come a very long way since 2002 when Neil Lennon felt compelled to retire as team captain after death threats. Strong leadership off the pitch from the IFA in tackling sectarianism has been matched by Michael O’Neill’s achievements on it.

The News Letter has picked up a great story, of a Talkback listener (and Republic supporter) from West Belfast who was taken to Windsor Park by DUP MLA Jim Wells…

The News Letter reports:

Mr Weir said he had an “absolutely fantastic” time, adding he did not feel intimidated at all. “It has totally changed my mind from what I’d thought before.”

Whilst Mr Wells was at some pains to note:

“I’m not seeking for people like Ciaran who felt they couldn’t come to Windsor Park to start supporting Northern Ireland. “I just want them to know times have changed and they can come along and enjoy a great atmosphere with nothing to intimidate.”

  • Thomas Girvan

    That’s right. They changed from three leaves to four many years ago.
    I always assumed it was four leafed shamrock, as in clover, for luck, in which case it seems to be working!

  • Oggins

    Thanks Mike, all solid points.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    What a strange analogy! We’re talking international soccer teams here.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Odd and, dare I say it, embarrassing.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    A fairly recent captain of the North’s team was sent bullets in the post though? Why was this?

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Peter McParland was better – especially when it came to international football. (Being buddies with Fleet Street journalists and page three stunners does not a truly great footballer make! Best was very good though, of course.)

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    1) At least half those sports stars in the North would identify themselves as Irish and nationalist!

    2) Anyone born outside of Ireland who represents the Nation will have green blood in their veins and be very proudly Irish. It’s a bit like British folk who are born in Ireland arguing (quite rightly, if they feel that way) that they are British.

  • Toye native

    Still front NI, not the Republic of Ireland, two different countries

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    They make a mature gesture of friendship and reconciliation when they represent the territory. I just hope it’s appreciated and reciprocated with goodwill when re-unification comes along.

  • Toye native

    No the Ireland team represents the people of the island of Ireland.
    Well it’s ment to,
    Tricolour’s at all of the Ireland sports events. It simple Ireland is seen to be Irish , it’s like USA and Canada becomeing one for hockey, American football, baseball etc, but at the games your known as America you sing the USA anthem and only fly USA flags and are known as American’s around the world , why would Arlene surport another country, mmg was supporting a country he was born in and a country he wants to be apart of

  • Toye native

    Roman Catholic Church is the so called universal church,
    Then people started to protest at its false teaching’s, then what you got was the protestant churches (protesters) a church is only a building, bible says when 2-3 be leavers come 2gether in my name I will be, that’s a church jesus talks about

  • Skibo

    Toye please do not be so naive to believe you have the answer to what Jesus meant when he talks about the Church. Countries have fought wars over what the bible says.
    The CoE is built on the requirement of the King of England to acquire a divorce any time he pleased.
    I find alot within the Presbyterian church with which I agree but I find it so strange that the Presbyterian church can protest with itself. So we end up with the First Presbyterian and the second Presbyterian and the Free Presbyterian and I have an idea I have missed a couple as well.

  • Skibo

    Toye I hate to have to tell you this but Northern Ireland is not a country. It is a region. The Irish will know it as a region of Ireland and the British will know it as a region of the UK. It is no more a country that the city of London or Manchester. Both are probably larger in population and would have a better football team than NI.

  • Toye native

    Brilliant mate, you can go all day is it a country are not, bottom line it’s a country to most , everyday life we are told it’s a country TV radio, and so on
    Ni is not a region of Ireland, no such thing, it’s a region in the ISLAND of Ireland.
    Which the island has two countries

  • willow

    There are other flavours of Catholicism. Anglicans for example are Catholic.

  • willow

    Some protestants find the appropriation of the term Catholic by the RC church to be offensive.

    The Catholic Church is the universal church embracing all believers. To use the term in reference only to one denomination is to assert that other Christians are not members of the universal church.

  • Of course it was. It was both condescending and insulting. The suggestion clearly was that to support the NI team is the natural way or the proper order of things, but to support Ireland must be down to indoctrination and couldn’t be in any way natural.

    The term “indoctrination” has negative connotations of something partisan or extreme being forced upon an innocent, vulnerable party contrary to that party’s best interests or contrary to what is right. It was a disparaging denial of the validity and integrity of our identity; it was dinosaur stuff. I’ll give ‘Toye native’ the benefit of the doubt and assume his comment was born out of ignorance rather than any deliberate malice or intent to offend.

    For most football-following nationalists and republicans, supporting Ireland feels like the most natural thing in the world. That’s because we identify culturally with the team on this island that plays under our national flag – the tricolour – and anthem – ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ – and represents the entire Irish nation. We support the team made up of players from both political jurisdictions and the team for which players born in all 32 counties of Ireland are eligible. We support our team for the very same reasons that NI fans support their team; because of a cultural and national affiliation. We support our team because we’re Irish; not Northern Irish.

    Would ‘Toye native’ similarly say that NI fans have indoctrinated or brainwashed their NI-supporting kids into supporting NI? I highly doubt it. If he does use similar language to describe the root source of support for the team with whom he identifies, I’ll be more than happy to be corrected. If he wouldn’t use such language when discussing his own tribe, I’m afraid he’s a hypocrite.

  • In your opinion, have NI-supporting kids similarly been indoctrinated (to use your rather ridiculous and insulting terminology) to support NI by their NI-supporting parents?

    It’s not the type of language I would use to describe the natural inheritance of cultural/national identity and the consequent attachment to identifiers of that identity (due to its obviously negative connotations), but if you use the term consistently, that’s fair enough.

    If you don’t feel such language would be appropriate to use to discuss the roots of NI support, however, why on earth would you think it’s appropriate to use to discuss the roots of support for our national team? We support our team for the very same reasons that you support your team. We don’t happen to share the same cultural or national outlook or affiliations as you do. We have a different cultural and national perspective. We’re Irish – not Northern Irish – and Ireland is our country. Why can’t you accept that?

    Your repeated assertion that we’ve been indoctrinated is insulting for further reasons I outlined here in response to an earlier comment by another poster: https://sluggerotoole.com/2017/09/06/northern-ireland-shows-that-sport-can-lead-as-well-as-follow/#comment-3513240357

  • You appear to believe that cultural or national identity is confined or dictated by state boundaries. I’m afraid you’re mistaken.

    I assume, as a NI fan, you’d reject then the support of Donegal-born Ulster Protestant unionists like Willie Hay, Maurice Devenney and Basil McCrea or of Cavan-born and openly NI-supporting Orangeman Charley McAdam?

    Something on McAdam and his affiliations here: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/orange-county-irishstyle-26422004.html

    Would you tell him that it should naturally be supporting the FAI’s team?

    Do you believe the aforementioned individuals have been “indoctrinated” because they identify with NI despite not having been born in it? If not, why insult the identity of northern nationalists with such negative terminology?

    You actually sound like you’re on a wind-up, such is your apparent level of ignorance of the northern nationalist community and of nationalist thinking. No-one ever instructed me or most of my friends in Derry not to support NI; the notion of doing so just simply never crossed our minds because we don’t identify with it on a cultural or national level, nor do our families or most of our community. It’s irrelevant.

    For me, deciding to support NI would feel as absurd and incongruous as deciding to support, say, England, Scottish or Wales might feel, because I’m neither English, Scottish nor Welsh, nor am I Northern Irish. I’m Irish.

    For many nationalists, the results of the NI team are as meaningful or irrelevant (take your pick) as the results of other teams in the region like England, Scotland or Wales. That has nothing to do with indoctrination. It’s simply because of who and what we are; we’re something else. Our identity differs from yours, but it is every bit as valid. I’d love if you were happy to accept that without the derogatory insinuation that our identity differs from your own because expressions of our identity are (allegedly) an unnatural product of indoctrination, but I guess we’re all entitled to our prejudices…

    We nationalists regard Ireland as our country; all 32 counties of it. You’re free, however, to identify with only the six north-eastern counties of it, if you wish.

  • Mike the First

    But I’m not disputing there are those who might see the flag and anthem as a problem.

    I’m disputing the assertion that they are “much more noticeable” than the jersey. They simply aren’t.

    And that assertion itself was a feeble attempt to support the incorrect assertion that the NI team only uses “the symbols of one side of the divide”.

  • Mike the First

    Thank you, good having a discussion with you on this!

  • Toye native

    In general cultural and national identity is dictated by state boundaries that’s fact.
    Your talking about conflict countries which NI is one.
    No one instructed you and your friends to NOT support NI, in general you’ve been indoctrinated to be Irish and what you hear from a Young age that your from NI, is quickly dismissed by family and friends, ie we are Irish, no country, all Ireland, we support the Republic ect ect .
    that’s fact and I never said it was wrong, I would be telling my children the same if I was brought up in a nationalist family.
    As one blogger said my daughter asked me why do you support the republic when your from NI.
    I say again if you are born in NI you will naturally want to support the country you were born unless you’ve been told different

  • Toye native

    Many people in NI share the same cultural affiliates as the rest of the UK that’s fact, a nationlist would have more in common with someone in England and Scotland than they do with the Republic that’s fact too.

  • There are of course many cultural similarities between Ireland and Britain (particularly Scotland) and there are also significant cultural differences, but I think you’re confusing your opinion for fact.

    There are differences and similarities too even between the different regions of Ireland. Regional variation within a country or cultural variation within a nation is nothing abnormal or unusual. Subtle cultural variations within Ireland don’t make me (or any other northerner) any less Irish than someone from Connacht, Leinster or Munster, if that’s your rather unpleasant insinuation. (I really hope it wasn’t.)

    Even the more stark regional cultural variations don’t make me any less Irish. I don’t play hurling, for example – I never have, bar one time our class gave it a go during PE back in school – nor do I take a huge deal of interest in the game. I differ then in this from many of my compatriots further south or further east in Antrim. For what it’s worth, I’m much more interested in Gaelic football – the same can’t be said for many Irish people from Kilkenny, for example – but I’m certainly no more or less Irish than Irish people in other regions of the country on account of these aforementioned facts or differences.

    My mother is a Gaeilgeoir – I’m proud of that fact – whilst my spoken Irish is very rusty at present – that fact, I’m less proud of – but that doesn’t make me any less Irish than my mother either. The Irish nation is not a homogenous monolith – there are many different aspects to modern Irishness – but we still share a collective or common consciousness of unity and purpose.

    People on both sides of the border in the Irish border region happen to share a particularly close bond and sense of cultural commonality; in many cases, those bonds are of a parochial, communal and even familial nature. I imagine you’d have absolutely zero material experience, grasp or concept of this as you’re from nowhere near the border yourself (assuming you’re from Toye). And yet you somehow feel qualified to spout nonsense about us and try tell us who we “really” are or how we feel or should feel? The mind truly boggles. Give it a rest. The worst thing about it is that, on account of your evident ignorance and lack of self-awareness, I don’t even know if you realise how insulting your assumptions and attempts to speak on behalf of people about whom you clearly know very little actually.

    Out of interest, how often have you travelled south of the border? Have you ever lived in England or Scotland? Or what is it exactly that qualifies you to make such a bald assertion as that which you made above? How on earth would you have any idea with whom I might have more in common culturally? Can you elaborate as to why you would assume that I – the son of a Roscommon mother and a Tyrone father, someone who grew up along the Donegal-Derry border, someone who has lived in Dublin for four years and someone who has also lived in Manchester for six years, with over four of those years spent in a relationship with a Bristolian girl – might have more in common culturally with an English person than an Irish southerner? Seeing as you don’t share my experiences of Ireland – north and south – or of England, I think I’d be able to speak for myself a lot better than you ever could, but, aye, cheers anyway for being so patronising as to try…

  • PeterBrown

    Ireland’s Call is the Irish rugby anthem – accompanied in Dublin by the relevant National Anthem and in Belfast by????

    The GAA isn’t an international football team playing against other nations – which surely makes it even less appropriate for the antehm to be played and the flag flown?

  • Why wouldn’t it be appropriate for an explicitly Irish nationalist cultural organisation (that was established for the specific purpose of celebrating Irish nationalist tradition) to play the Irish national anthem – ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ – and fly the Irish national flag – the tricolour – in their own stadia if they so wish?

    (For what it’s worth, the GAA field an Ireland team annually – although less frequent than that over recent years – in an international combined or hybrid rules series against an Australian representative team composed of AFL players. They also field a hurling team that competes in an annual international composite rules series against Scottish shinty players.)

    Would you regard it as similarly inappropriate for an explicitly British unionist cultural organisation – such as the Orange Order – to play ‘GSTQ’ or display the Union flag in their own halls if they so wished? If so, fair enough; you’re consistent. If not, why the distinction in how you judge the GAA’s cultural expressions and how you’d judge the Orange Order’s cultural expressions in this regard?

    The difference between the GAA and the IFA is that the IFA actually purport to be a cross-community organisation who represent both the nationalist and unionist traditions. I’m not convinced of it myself, but that’s what they claim nevertheless, so surely it’s entirely fair to hold them to that professed standard. To the best of my knowledge, the GAA, meanwhile, don’t actually purport to represent the unionist tradition or ethos, which generally tends to conflict with the aspirations of Irish nationalism, so why would it be inappropriate for them to favour nationalist symbolism and eschew unionist symbolism?

    I should also add that even if the IFA were to change their flag and anthem to something less provocative or off-putting to nationalists, it wouldn’t make a difference to me – and I’d imagine many other nationalists and republicans would feel similarly – as I/we still wouldn’t identify culturally or nationally with the NI team.

    Perhaps it’d make a difference to some nationalists – I can’t speak for them – but for many like myself, Ireland is our nation, so we’d continue to support the team that represents the Irish nation; that being the Irish national team. We simply regard the north-eastern six counties as a region of Ireland, our country. It’s not that I necessarily wish any ill will to those who do attach emotional and cultural significance to the entity they refer to as Northern Ireland; I’m just saying that entity doesn’t have any distinct or meaningful significance for me beyond simply being the north-eastern corner of my country. I appreciate that unionists (and others) interpret things differently, as is their entitlement. I can live with, tolerate, accept and respect that pretty significant difference in opinion whilst still aspiring to the realisation of a democratically-agreed united Ireland to replace the current political framework and constitutional structures on the island that I see to be dividing the country in half.

    On the IRFU; personally, I’m not convinced by their assertions of inclusiveness. I wrote a bit about it on Slugger about two years ago actually, as I think the idea of representation for and acknowledgement of the British/unionist tradition in the all-island sphere is the sort of debate that we – Irish people, unity-proponents, nationalists and republicans – need to start considering more if we have any hope of peacefully uniting all traditions on the island. Here’s a link to what I wrote: https://sluggerotoole.com/2015/10/23/is-irish-rugby-truly-the-beacon-of-inclusiveness-it-is-purported-to-be/

  • PeterBrown

    Because you are I think the first person to accept that is what it is – every time we compare the loyal orders (a valid comparison if you substitute religion for sport in the nationalist single identity ethos) to the GAA we are told that it is not valid – and certainly one is funded as a sport the other as a cultural organisation. You are the first GAA supporter to be consistent on this and I agree with you but if that is the case it needs to stop pretending to be cross community.You are also honest about the NI football team – its not about symbols its about nationalism so why try to interfere with the symbols that actually belong to this part of Ireland if even if they are changed it will make no difference?

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    What you hear at the rugby is the Presidential Salute – it gets played at any event where the President is in attendance – it’s not the Irish national anthem.

    I think if you attend most stadia around the world for club fixtures of various team sports you will find a national flag? It seems common practice – it certainly is the case in the Premier League, for example. In territories like the North where there is no sense of one common “national” identity, displaying national flags at sports stadia is certainly an issue. I’m sure if some kind of neutral flag that bound all the communities together could be found the GAA would endorse it.

  • PeterBrown

    The Presidential Salute is the singing of the national anthem and if there is not a sense of one common national identity for the Irish rugby team but they played under the tricolour it is hypocritical to apply a different standard to NI football – as for the national flag at club games then can we havve union jacks at NI GAA games please or will there be double standards there too?

  • I played Gaelic football in my younger years and I follow the GAA football championship fairly casually. My da would be a bigger fan than I, whereas soccer, association football or whatever you prefer to call it would be more my thing, so I’d be reluctant to be seen to be speaking on behalf of the wider GAA community and GAA supporters on account of that.

    Nevertheless, I think the GAA and the Orange Order are very different organisations for other reasons. Don’t assume I think they’re one and the same – only representing different tribes – just because I cited one example of an area in which they, as cultural organisations, may share a characteristic; that being the usage of national symbols or signifiers.

    To be more accurate, the GAA is both a sporting and cultural body – it promotes Irish sports, as well as Irish music, dance and language – so its receipt of both sports and cultural funding wouldn’t be inappropriate.

    The Orange Order is avowedly sectarian and anti-Catholic, to the best of my knowledge; the GAA is neither sectarian nor anti-Protestant. The GAA’s main cup in football is named after a Protestant (Sam Maguire), for example, as are many of its clubs (Bhulf Tón CLG or Watty Graham’s GAC, for example). From 1993 to 1997, it had a Protestant president, Jack Boothman. It also runs outreach programmes to increase engagement and participation amongst religious and ethnic minority communities in Ireland. I understand that the Cúchulainn Initiative aims to make the GAA more accessible to Ulster Protestants, for example. There are figures too, within the Ulster GAA especially, who advocate the dropping of Irish national symbols as they feel it might aid the outreach process. Jarlath Burns being an example of someone who favours that approach.

    Does the GAA actually pretend or purport to represent unionism? Should it represent unionism? If you think so, why so?

    On the NI football team, what you say is true for me – I can’t speak for all nationalists – and I agree with the import of your question; I have no interest in interfering with whatever symbolism the IFA feel is appropriate for them to use. It’s their business, as far as I’m concerned. I have no stake in that debate.

    I do think they leave themselves open to legitimate criticism, however, when they seemingly fail to live up to their own professed standards. I think it’s fair to judge anyone against their own professed standards and I find there’s much greater worth in that than moralising, pontificating or trying to impose your standards upon them. Consequently, I’m just not sure how the IFA can square up claiming to represent the nationalist community too whilst, at the same time, playing under the “Ulster Banner” and singing ‘God Save the Queen’ before games. Ultimately though, their preferred symbolism is the business of themselves and their fans, which isn’t my concern.

    Perhaps some may argue that seeing as the IFA represent what is essentially a bi-communal territory, they might have some sort of socio-moral obligation to represent all traditions who regard that territory as home? I dunno; maybe, maybe not. I’m sure someone else can make that argument if they want; it’s not something that overly bothers or concerns me as the IFA are ultimately an irrelevance to me. (I don’t say that to be rude or dismissive; just using that term to explain that I don’t consider them to be my team, in much the same way I wouldn’t consider England my team). If the IFA wish to alienate a segment of the nationalist population who may be swayed by the adoption of new symbols (and I’m sure there are at least some people from a nationalist background who might be otherwise open to supporting them), that’s the IFA’s call.

    I know the IFA considered adopting new symbolism a few years ago, but they were more concerned about alienating existing fans than opening a door for potential new ones.

  • I think you’ve actually got it the wrong way around. Nation-states tend to be established in order to cater for and protect the interests of a specific ethnic group or groups who already possess a collective or common sense of nationhood. National identity tends to be channelled or projected through these representative states and citizenship or formal, legal nationality tends to be administered then on a ‘jus soli’ (right of soil) basis and/or a ‘jus sanguinis’ (right of blood) basis, so it is absolutely not correct to say that national identity is generally dictated simply by state boundaries. Nor is it correct to suggest it is manufactured by state boundaries. State boundaries can have an influence over the evolution of a certain national consciousness, but they certainly aren’t the only factor that might contribute to or play a role in such a process. The reality is much more complex than that, but, of course, that doesn’t suit your simplistic narrative that seeks to diminish, deny and/or cast doubts over the validity of the Irish national identity of northern nationalists.

    And it obviously isn’t the case that the state boundary defines ones national identity when it comes to NI, where a significant Irish nationalist minority were separated from the rest of the Irish nation residing south of an imposed border in 1921 and kept inside the UK against their will. The imposition of a border against the democratic will of the Irish people that was expressed prior to partition didn’t suddenly nullify or invalidate the Irish national identity of those who found themselves marooned north of the partition line. Besides, Irish nationality law has applied over the entire island since 1956 in order to give formal recognition to the national identity of those residing north of the border who identify as Irish. The effect of Irish nationality law is not confined by the boundaries of the southern state.

    Out of interest, do you deny the nationhood of, say, the Kurds simply because they don’t have a nation-state through which to officially channel their national identity?

    Anyhow, what you believe to generally be the fact is completely irrelevant to this discussion. It’s not an absolute rule, so no point trying to invoke it or rely upon it. And of course I’m talking about “conflict countries” such as here, considering that’s the topic of discussion and I’m trying to inform you as to why the northern nationalist community, by and large, support the Ireland team rather than the NI team in football, because you seem to be under the mistaken impression that it results from indoctrination.

    How on earth would you know how I was raised? Honestly, you’re a wil’ man altogether for making all sorts of crude and outrageous assumptions about others based on nothing but pure and utter ignorance.

    What you’re describing as “indoctrination” isn’t really indoctrination, which has malicious and insidious connotations. What you’re talking about is simply the inheritance of identity, culture, heritage and tradition, which is completely normal and benign. Every human family and society does it and it doesn’t have to be seen as harmful in any way. Unless is it that you think all identity, culture, heritage and tradition is a product of indoctrination and you universally apply that term to describe the passing on of identity in every society or culture rather than just to describe the passing on of the Irish nationalist identity in the north of Ireland. If so, fair enough; at least you’re consistent.

    If it is indeed so, do you also classify NI-supporting parents raising their kids as NI supporters to be “indoctrination”? Do you regard yourself as having been a victim or product of indoctrination because you support NI? I mean, someone or something obviously had an influence over you and your cultural preferences and affiliations.

    Personally, I just think “indoctrination” is a wildly inappropriate word to use in this context as you’re using it to describe a perfectly natural and normal aspect of the human condition; that being parents raising their own children in the manner they see fit or in the culture and identity with which they feel most comfortable and most at home.

    Your position is bizarre and incoherent anyway. You seem to be saying that the influences a northern nationalist kid might pick up from, say, the media or his/her school environment or whatever are “natural”, yet the influences they might pick up from their family or community are “indoctrination”. Why the distinction? Simply in order to cast nationalist families as some sort of malign influence? To me, that just seems like veiled bigotry really, as if to suggest the kid’s Ireland-supporting family are some sort of insidious or partisan influence, whilst NI-supporting families are “how things should be”.

    Do you reject Charley McAdam’s support for NI on the basis that McAdam was born in Cavan? Is it your opinion that Charley McAdam – an Ulster Protestant, Orangeman and unionist who identifies as British, in spite of his birth in Cavan – should “naturally” support the Ireland football team? Is it your opinion that McAdam has been “indoctrinated” by his family/community to support NI? What about the other Donegal-born unionists I mentioned; Willie Hay, Maurice Devenney and Basil McCrea, all of whom are of Ulster-Scots heritage? Do you reject their identification with NI as “unnatural” too? Do you regard them as having been indoctrinated to identify with NI?

    A statement like this is just so profoundly ignorant of history and of nationalist thinking and betrays a heavy bias: “I say again if you are born in NI you will naturally want to support the country you were born unless you’ve been told different.”

    Why would or should a nationalist or republican born in the north-east of Ireland “naturally” feel warmth or attachment towards an historically exclusionary and discriminatory entity that has been hostile to them, their predecessors and their culture? Don’t you understand that when you ask a northern nationalist or republican which country they were born in, they’ll answer “Ireland”? They will answer so because we regard the entire island as our country and see the north-eastern six counties as merely a corner or region of our country. Your usage of the term “country” in this context isn’t universally agreed.

    Assuming you were born in the north of Ireland, you’re automatically entitled to Irish nationality if you wish to recognise it; if I was to take your approach and use your terminology, I could just as easily ask you why don’t you support Ireland on the basis of your entitlement to Irish nationality and claim that you’ve been “indoctrinated” by the politics and culture of a partitionist construct, but I wouldn’t badger you about it or try to dismiss how you identify because it’s just really poor form. I’m happy to accept you as an equal and accept you for who you are. You’d rightly be insulted if I started denying your professed identity.

  • PeterBrown

    The GAA is a nationalist sporting organisation – no one has alleged it is anti protestant which confuses and conflates religion and politics but it cannot be as nationalist in its ethos as it purports to be and a at the same time anything other than a cold house for unionists. The Orange Order is also sectarian but would presumably dispute that it is anti catholic in the same way that the GAA would dispute that is it anti unionist but their ethoses (is there a plural of ethos???) make them irrelevant or worse to those who hold a different political opinion. The same is true of the NI team – if you don’t support NI itself you are unlikely to support their football team irrespective of what flag they fly or what anthem they play so why should they change?

  • Skibo

    Northern Ireland is a devolved region of one country. It came into being in 1921/22. The parliament of Northern Ireland was planned to be sub subservient to the parliament of Dublin. The North and South in 1921/22 were to be two devolved regions of Ireland.