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Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ireland's Identity Crisis

Updated on July 16, 2011

(I invite and welcome debate and external perspectives on the issues discussed in this hub as it is very sensitive and therefore is rarely discussed in the public domain).

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy claimed his first PGA Tour win in some style on May 2 and in doing so he elevated himself into the status of sporting icon in his homeland. Even before his victory at Quail Hollow it seemed like his destiny to become the world’s best golfer, and now even more so. However, many experts were saying exactly the same thing about Sergio Garcia over a decade ago. Despite this win, Rory still has many mental challenges ahead before we start labelling him as heir to Tiger’s throne.

Of course being from Northern Ireland will be a challenge in itself. As yet Rory has remained quiet in terms of where his allegiance lies, whether he considers himself British or Irish, unionist or nationalist. These are decisions he will have to think carefully about because like it or not, the Irish on both sides of the border are obsessed with the subject. His identity will doubtless be a talking point, perhaps not in America and perhaps not publicly either, but people from Northern Ireland, Britain and the Republic of Ireland are already talking about it and will speculate over it until his identity is revealed. McIlroy has been very discreet surrounding his affiliations, if he has any, and it is virtually impossible to find information on this matter.

Flag of Rep. of Ireland
Flag of Rep. of Ireland

Irish Sporting Mess

In 2009 Rory McIlroy and newly crowned US Open champion Graeme McDowell participated in the Golf World Cup where they represented Ireland under the Republic's tricolour flag despite both players being from Northern Ireland.


Unofficial Flag of Northern Ireland
Unofficial Flag of Northern Ireland

This is in contrast to sports like Rugby and Cricket where Ireland is also represented by players from both the south and the north. However, in rugby and cricket a separate flag is used.

Irish Rugby Union Flag
Irish Rugby Union Flag

When one Irish team represents the whole island there is much sensitivity surrounding how the team is seen and how it portrays itself in competition. In rugby and cricket the Irish teams use their own unique politically compromised Irish flags. These flags bare little relation to the Republic’s tricolour, the North’s Ulster banner or Britain’s Union Jack.

Flag of the Irish Cricket
Flag of the Irish Cricket

A similar compromise is made during the playing of the national anthems before these sporting events. When the Irish rugby team plays a test match in the Republic, Amhrain na bhFiann(the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland) is followed by Ireland’s Call in order to respect the Northern Irishmen who are in the team. When Ireland play on foreign soil, Ireland’s Call is the only song played to represent the team.This is a song simply made up to act as a compromise and it is widely mocked by the fans of the team as having no value to supporters from the North or from the South. However, it achieved its initial goal which was to defuse the tension that threatened to split the team.

Rory and McDowell at a World Cup press conference - no Irish colours in sight
Rory and McDowell at a World Cup press conference - no Irish colours in sight

Whether McIlroy and McDowell knew they were playing for the tricolour I can't be sure but they were in contention to win the golf world cup until they were pipped at the post by the Italian Molinari brothers. The winners celebrated by adorning themselves in their national flag. How interesting it would have been to see how our Northern Irish duo would have celebrated. Would they have wrapped themselves in the green white and gold of the Republic? Would they have contradicted the scoreboard and held aloft the Ulster Banner? More likely, it would have been a careful colourless delight because the two players themselves were unsure who they were playing for.

Dennis Taylor - Former Snooker World Champion from Northern Ireland
Dennis Taylor - Former Snooker World Champion from Northern Ireland

Rory follows a line of sports people who have been confronted by similar issues. Dennis Taylor and Barry McGuigan both became world champions in 1985 when times were much more difficult. At that time the tension and hostility in Northern Ireland regularly resulted in violence. Taylor won the World Snooker Championship and like boxing champ McGuigan, he sat on the fence, wearing neutral colours, hoping to be a source of pride to both communities, and also hoping to bring those communities together. In essence Rory can do the same. He can remain quiet like his predecessors. However the pressure is not on McIlroy to the same extent. He is younger for a start and the violence in Northern Ireland has subsided. Golf is also not typically a working class sport. However he does live in a world of information. Rory’s website is decorated in the Ulster Banner, surely not by accident. This is a flag with an unofficial status in the North, despite regularly acting as official even though it is rejected by nationalists in the North. In days gone by this would symbolize Rory's acceptance of and loyalty to the British throne, and perhaps it is his way of publicizing his identity. But if, as his website suggests, he is British at heart, why would he agree to play for Ireland under the tricoulour?

Irish or British Identity

The issue I am most concerned about is Irish sporting identity. That is the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in sports that these grey areas still remain without clarification. It is my belief that two separate states should not be combining their sporting talent in some sports and stealing each other's talents in others. Of course here I am referring to the soccer players from the North who have opted in recent years to play for the Republic. There is genuine hostility between the respective fans as a result, and yet these same fans are obliged to unite together for a 'whole' Ireland in a different sport under some mickey mouse flag with a mickey mouse anthem. This is a problem that will be hugely difficult to navigate. The fact is that Rory will never be afforded the same warmth in the Republic that he gets in the North until he nails his colours to the mast.

The problem of identity is not Rory McIlroy's problem. He know's who he is. The problem of identity lies deep in the hearts of the Irish people, both North and South of the border. As a natural consequence of history, Republicans will find it difficult if not impossible to support a sports person from Northern Ireland who pledges allegiance to the British Monarch. Similarly Unionists will not go out of there way to support Republicans. When a sporting icon withdraws this piece of their identity, support of that sports person will become delicate.

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      Johnc733 3 years ago

      Im not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later. Cheers fdecebbcacef

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      harhors 4 years ago

      damned if he does damned if he doesnt

      poor rory--what does he do

      brought up in n ireland in a catholic family that endured

      sectarian problems it must be difficult for his family to see him embracing britain as his home country

      i dont think this is what he is doing

      i just think he is trying to declare himself irish being brought up in

      n ireland and i think that we should all realise the BOTTLE he is showing

      by doing this

      he is a tremendous golfer and it saddens me today to read it the press

      he is think1ng of not competing in olympics in rio

      i am scottish catholic brought up in a similar household to his

      my great delight was to see celtic win and the republic of ireland

      win as opposed to scotland as all my forebearers come from co monaghan

      have a great 2013

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      DubsforSam 5 years ago

      The flag that Rory McIlroy wraps around himself is the flag of a statelet formed contrary to the democratic wishes of the majority of Irish people. "Northern" Ireland was formed under threat of violence from unionists who knew they had the backing of the conservative elements in the British government. As far as I'm concerned it is part of my country that is controlled by a foreign power. Rory McIlroy supports that division and he can go and shit in a hat. I don't care how many majors he wins.

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      Rubabdub 5 years ago

      I suppose the whole thing really boils down to whether you feel that being Irish AND British is compatible. I don't. some Unionists abviously don't but there are lots of people who see it as a kind of grey area. I'm Irish like Katie taylor, Conlon and Barns are Irish. McDowell and McIlroy are British. They may also think of themselves as Irish but I dont. I dont support British sports people the way I support Irish ones. This Island is divided into two distinct national identities.

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      Brendan 5 years ago

      @ fcbman,

      I couldn't have said it better,I fully agree with your comment,this whole british/Irish thing does my head in,

      last week the british tabloids were even claiming Katie Taylor as british,just been watching bbc news and they said rory is british and wants to play for team GB in the next olympics if golf is admitted,they then said his 'fellow englishman' came in second place, I mean Jes h christ whats up with that?

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      ireniall 5 years ago

      @ Chris-ok we might as well celebrate Usain Bolt or Roger Federer-if you dont own them they dont mean a whole lot to you do they?Sport is partisan-its not for the aesthetics of it like in a circus -it's that these exceptional people represent you in some way-how can they do that if they are flying a different flag.I've been making these arguments on other sites for quite a while now and I've yet to meet even one northern Catholic who agrees with me-I get more support from Unionists even though they are definitely not interested in an all-Ireland flag.So I think there is only one way that this is going-NI will be a separate entity in all sports in which it is possible for small nations to be competitive and will only combine when this is plainly not the case.Fair enough-what harm-its been like that now for 100 years -we'll just have to get used to it and leave it alone.

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      Chris 5 years ago

      I find it hilarious how much shite has been talked here over flags. Sure isn't that just the problem? God help us when you start talking about Marty McG shaking the Queens hand today! Ha ha.... Who cares what flags they display, what religion they are, what nationality they consider themselves. Can't you just enjoy their sporting acheivements without the need to 'own' them? See... I've depressed myself now at the sheer intransigence of some of the folk on this island.

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      ireniall 5 years ago

      @ Padraig-I bow to your superior knowledge of rugby-was at the match -oh well have to eat some humble pie(getting used to the taste)-congrats to Ulster-I hope they reach the final now.

      @fcbman-I understand what you're saying but there is no real danger that the south is going to forget that northern Catholics are our own people and all that-there are too many strong ties for that but there's no point in denying that the tricolour is now a source of division and is therefore useless as a uniting symbol.The great beauty of sport is that it can be a very uniting force in a slow and imperceptable way while leaving the really difficult stuff like the constitutional position of NI to one side.To my mind the northern Nationalist attachement to the tricolour will get in the way of the creation of a new flag to represent us all as if you insist you can probably get parity for it alongside the UJ in NI but the default situation will be that all northern sportsmen will represent NI under a seperate flag as an agreed flag will not be available.Of course Unionists will try for a new flag to represent NI alone but they may be persuaded of the merits of an all-Ireland flag as it would surely be plain to them that nationalists dont object to the Ulster Banner because of the colours but because it represents a seperate NI.If they are going to agree an all-Ireland glag then they will insist on your agreeing to a new NI flag also and the best idea I can come up with on that is to use the agreed Ireland flag with a red hand or whatever other symbols were negotiated.Either way I feel the tricolour has no future as the flag of Ireland

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      fcbman 5 years ago

      Hi all. Just found this site and find it very interesting. I would like to contribute from the perspective of a northern born Irish national…who I think get a raw deal on several fronts. What about us?

      The one dimensional presentation of all who live in the north, particularly by local (northern and southern) media, is extremely and increasingly frustrating. Northerners en masse are presented to the world as British and received and regarded by those in Britain and Europe, as British. The Ulster Banner/Union Jack are presented and displayed as the flag(s) for ‘our country’. Many (but by no means all) in southern Ireland have difficulty (or simply refuse to) accept that almost 40% of northerners are ‘as Irish as they are’. Many indeed reject us as even being Irish at all.

      NI might be technically part of the UK and those who profess to be British, Rory McIllroy included have every right to do so and that must be respected. The Ulster Banner/Union Jack however only represents one aspect of nationality in the north and people can if they wish, irrespective of their religion, choose that as a flag to represent them. If they do they are declaring their nationality. However whether we like it or not it has to be accepted that the north of Ireland in the sense of 'nationality' is a divided society. Around 40% of the population do not accept the British identity or the north as ‘their country’ (which doesn’t mean they dislike those who do) yet they are continually being told who/what they are and presented as something that they are/are not.

      The history of the Irish tricolour needs addressed here to explain why northern born Irish nationals accept it and nothing else as their national flag. The Irish tricolour long pre-dates Irish partition. It was first introduced in 1848 by Thomas Francis Meagher based on the symbolism of the flag of the French Republic. It represents the cultural, political and historical affiliations of about 80% of the people who live in and have always lived in Ireland. It is the flag of Ireland and not just a PART of Ireland. I live in Ireland not in a PART of Ireland. Because someone drew a line on a map 90 odd years ago and told people in Ireland who or what they were (or were to become) doesn’t mean that’s how it is. Were those who live in the south suddenly deemed to be Irish nationals simply because of partition or have they always regarded themselves as Irish? Were all the people of Ireland, pre-partition, all British? I think not. It is no different for northern born Irish nationals. We feel we have our Irish nationality, citizenship and identity diluted or even denied to us and a Britishness thrust upon us.

      The Ulster Banner/Union Jack is used by the NI soccer team and as such does not reflect the cultural identity of 40% of the population. That is why more and more northern born Catholics are choosing to represent the Ireland soccer team and not the NI soccer team. Those who do so incidentally are not ‘switching alliegance’ as is sometimes claimed…. their mindset is that the entire island of Ireland is their country and are therefore representing it….not just the south…but all of it under their national flag.

      As for the Ireland Rugby team I support it but I feel that refusing to play the Irish national anthem or flying the national flag outside of the 26 counties - which indeed they failed to do when Ireland played a WC friendly game in my home city of Belfast - is a denial of a public expression of my cultural identity. Although ‘Irelands Call’ is an awful anthem and wouldn’t lose sleep if it were removed then if it has to stay both anthems should be played on all occasions as should the flying of the Irish national flag. What must a first time viewer seeing Ireland Rugby team play in a WC in say NZ think the Ireland flag and national anthem are? Goodness me!!!

      The tricolour (or any Irish flag for that matter) belongs to whoever feels allegiance to it and lines on a map are irrelevant. The flag is about national identity. If Rory McIllroy chooses to be represented by British symbolism that is his free choice. I personally would prefer him to represent Ireland….all of it. Ask the Armagh Gaelic footballer Oisin McConville, a multiple All-Ireland football title winner, if he is less Irish than say Brian O'Driscoll, Roy Keane, Sonia O’Sullivan or Stephen Roche. Mary McAleese, Irish President for 14 years was born in my city of Belfast. Is the Irish national flag of the tricolour not her flag too? Christ was born in a stable but that did not make him a horse.

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      Tombo 5 years ago

      I'm from Cork, my wife from Northern Ireland, my kids were born in Derry and we live in Tyrone.

      Ye are all mad.

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      lee 5 years ago

      im nw london born , belfast father, mothers family southern british and irish from c cork during the famine ......peace.......///brit-paddy crossbreed i laughed

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      Jimbo 5 years ago

      I don't understand where the nationalist idea that the uk doesn't care about northern Ireland comes from. That may have been the case for certain uk governments (Wilson, thatcher etc.) but after suffering the bombing campaigns for 30 year we feel a great solidarity with norn iron.

      The west of Scotland particularly identifies with Ireland generally (whether unionist or republican). If you want to see why football and religion shouldn't mix, get to the old firm.

      The England national team, Chelsea and rangers all sing anti-ira songs and pro-unionist songs which, although often offensive, are a reflection of their determination to keep the uk together.

      Ironically I think that England cared little for northern Ireland throughout the mid 20th century but the sheer horror of the terrorist actions on the mainland and Ireland has made people in the uk determined to 'not surrender'.

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      Wolftone Wesley 5 years ago

      Dear Irishbob, with the greatest respect you seem to have our information slightly wrong on a couple of points=the north of the island is not an internationaly recognised indedendant country it is a joint sharing region due to the good friday aggreement, secondly of course its about religion as since the reformation of the 16th century reformation it has always been about religion and supremesy, and neither flag at the present time will ever encaptulate both divides, it is not a country on two points. 1=its part of the uk.2=there are over 750,000 holders of an Irish passport which by definition makes most of them Irish. if it were indipendant then james mcclean, marc wilson, darron duffy, and darren gibson could not represent the republic at football. secondly the flag issue that chris brought up is a nonstarter, as an irish prod i love my tricolour but the dream that the young irelanders had in 1848 in the village of the commons co tipperary when both catholics and prodestants inaugarated it as a flag of peace as ben both hijacked and bastardised by the shinners who through their own sick agenda have made what was supposed to be a flag of unity into a flag of division and hate by my co-religious(the similarities stop there)in the north for good reason. brothers it will take over two generations for this mess to be solved, untill thenirish will call rory a traitor, and thr loyalists will keep sending mcclean wilson duffy gibson, lennon bullets in the post, all we can do is pray for the biggots on boty sides, congrats rory on his world number one, class act, but ill always have mcdowel as my number . godbless you all

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      irishrob 5 years ago

      Im a British born Irishman still living in England but 100%Irish as its my choice.Now why am i not surprised to see that Irish sporting debates always revert bavk to religion!Infact any debate i see always ends with religion.I would love to have a United Ireland however 2 countries into 1 doesnt go.Plus lets be honest the Republic couldnt afford to run the North!Lets get back to sport.Correct me if im wrong no matter what i or any Irishman thinks,Northern Ireland is a country.As far as im concerned religion or not he can wave the commonly recognised Northern Ireland flag,as a Catholic or Prodestant.Fact of the matter is,if he had waved a British flag in triumph then we could and should be having this debate.I too am a.huge Ireland rugby fan &if a player from the North scored a winning try id celebrate with the same vigour,eapecially against England!

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      Padraig 5 years ago

      @ Chris, are you kidding? Have you read the 500 proceeding blogs? It is this simplistic onesided view that misses the point completely. Of course the orange in the tri color is meant to represent the protestant perspective but the Tri color itself if you had bothered to read any of the proceeding is seen by Northern Protestants as the most extreme representation of the Catholic tradition in Northern Ireland/The North. It would be like saying to people from the R.O.I to accept the Union Jack as our flag because it has the St. Patrick's Cross (The Red X)in it. You cannot gloss over either side in N.I. and mandate either flag......The people of N.I. will decide which flag they want in the distant future. It will probably look like something that embodies both traditions or both sides may decide to stick with what they feel represents them best today.

      ~I am delighted to see Rory Best of Ulster as the Captain of the Ireland rugby team this weekend. Do us proud against a big Scots team. Padraig.

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      Chris 5 years ago

      The tri-colour as a flag and a symbol for the whole country of Ireland (north and south) in my eyes is a perfect representation for all people on the island whether they are protestant or Catholicc or whatever.

      This is because the green and orange segment represent both nationalist and unionist communities. Alot people don't realise this........

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      Padraig 5 years ago

      @ireniall- I am not sure it is a given for Munster this time around. If Ulster play the same way they did against Leicester two weekends ago all bets are off; However if Munster play the same way they did against Northampton this weekend nobody stands a chance.Either ways Leinster to do a job on the winner. My Dad's from Ulster, Mom's from Munster but I grew up 200 yrds from Leinster's home ground....its all good I follow the three religiously.

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      ireniall 5 years ago

      @ smicker-there's no chance that anyone in the south would have a problem with your calling yourself Irish-sure thats what we want above all else I would say-I've enjoyed catching up with all the comments in here-I think there's great hope for the future and now I have to shout against Ulster in Thomond-sorry Smicker cross-community relations will have to be suspended for that couple of hours and I'm afraid it's a year too early for Ulster imo.Munster to win by 10

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      Smicker81 5 years ago

      I think it is plain and simple. You can be a Protestant in northern Ireland and be Irish and wish for Irish sports representatives to do well and support them whether they are from north or south. I am a protestant and will be cheering on the republic in the euro football championships and not England etc. I am Irish whether people in the republic do not like this is their beef. The flag issue is a hot potato and I think that it could have been handled better. But that was mcilroy's decision.

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      Wolftone Wesley 5 years ago

      Padraig i know that this is not an issue for you and most Catholics but to Protestants of all view points, if they were to play hurling and gealic accross the border and beleive me, there are a small persentage that actually like the game up there, the would have to join a club that would most probably named after a catholic saint and for anybody who knows the Bible would understand that us prods see this as sacreligious as the Bible teaches us that anyone and i mean anyone that follows christ with a good heart is in Gods eyes also a saint probably even you padraig, secondly it was only lately that psni officers could play G.A.A. Thirdly whether we like it in the south or not , the national anthem is a massivly provoctive block between the two traditions. listen lads, how would we feel if we were rugby players and free Irish men havein to be ridiculed by God save the queen each time we took to the field, we including I would be savagly discusted, so please open your hearts of once for rory best(one of your best players)andrew trimble, and paddy wallace, ton court and stephen ferrise as far as i know are r/c, and there are now 5 catholics on the ulster team, all middle class like rory mc. as i said padraig, im a proud Irish protestant (also many more) from republic of Ireland and in the view of john swift burn everything except its coal. but just as you are my brother, through religion(nothing else)their also my brethern and i wish them all the best in their support of rory best, but the sad missconception is when best and mcdowel play the various opens next year most of us will shout for them, but ironicaly our friends in the north will be for the next 6 months buying croatian, spanish and italain flags...no this padraig is called true biggotry....a saddened Irish prodestant....I Wonder would Jesus advocate such hate(LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AND ALSO YOUR ENEMY

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      Padraig 5 years ago

      Yes, well said Wesley!.....it really is a state of mind not just an entity. Your cross border roots truly give you a good insight.

      ~The irony is I like your protestant brethern was denied any access to the GAA simply by the fact that I lived in Dublin where almost 100% of Catholic schools refuse to play the GAA.Having said that I do love my Rugby which is a much bigger all Ireland sport than Golf currently and may be a way to bring both sides together. Munster and Leinster have won 4 out of the last 6 European Titles and Ulster started us all off by winning the first.

      I know the obvious statement here is that playing rugby is out of the question for most Catholics north of the border because of th natural resistance inside and outside their community.....but all I can say is when they see huge GAA strongholds like Munster dominating at rugby it must make for some scrathing of the heads.

      ~I have never wandered North of the border in the past because of my name, accent and moderate views which precluded me from any welcome on either side but now I feel things are changing and may be I can venture a visit to Ravenhill to see my Leinster play the "Ulster Boys". Cheers Padraig

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      Padraig 5 years ago

      Yes, well said Wesley!.....it really is a state of mind not just an entity. Your cross border roots truly give you a good insight.

      ~The irony is I like your protestant brethern was denied any access to the GAA simply by the fact that I lived in Dublin where almost 100% of Catholic schools refuse to play the GAA.Having said that I do love my Rugby which is a much bigger all Ireland sport than Golf currently and may be a way to bring both sides together. Munster and Leinster have won 4 out of the last 6 European Titles and Ulster started us all off by winning the first.

      I know the obvious statement here is that playing rugby is out of the question for most Catholics north of the border because of th natural resistance inside and outside their community.....but all I can say is when they see huge GAA strongholds like Munster dominating at rugby it must make for some scrathing of the heads.

      ~I have never wandered North of the border in the past because of my name, accent and moderate views which precluded me from any welcome on either side but now I feel things are changing and may be I can venture a visit to Ravenhill to see my Leinster play the "Ulster Boys". Cheers Padraig

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      Wolftone Wesley 5 years ago

      Look Padraig you know all too well as do most informed people that read these blogs, it is far more than an entity or even ones inentity when it comes to the six counties, its a state of mind and no, and i mean NO flag what ever colour will ever be favoured by the majority of both groups in the North. They have been and will be for many years to come, absolutly and fundemently opposed to each others view points on every level including sport that they will never reach common ground on issues of sport. Each group elevates individuals of their persuasion and make idols of them as defenders of their tradition, Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor, George Best and Neil Lennon, and now people are scrapping over a brilliant golfer Rory Mc, this is an issue that will continue unless we as a nation mature and allow grace to interviene so we can accept each others failings. When i was young the family went to our cousins in Armagh on holidays and my brothers and i took our hurls with us, when we got there we were told that if we took our hurls out to play, they would be taken from us and broken as it represented fenian supression of our way of life, i hated my auty for years after, but i also understand (in a sick proddy way) where they were coming from, people of my religion in the north have been and never will be accepted in sports like GAA, unlike Irish prods so they inentify with there own values and Rory is an extention of that as he is the epitomy of what they wanted Catholics to be in the first place, British.But take it from me Padraig and i can say this as a protestant, He will never be accepted 100% by unionists because deep down he is still a Catholic. He should have kept his mouth shut on this issue as i fear now it will gather pace come the olympics when he will have to make a decision that will anger one section and arouse the other to slanderous stupidity. Godbless

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      Padraig 5 years ago

      Mr. Wesley, I whole heartedly agree! Refreshhing to say the least.No point in throwing the baby out with the bath water when it comes to the Tri-colour or any other nations flag for that matter.

      I suppose the bigger question on flags is what of N.I./The North. What is your point of view here to encompass both traditions? I am still maintaining the Tri-colour for R.O.I. and The Union Jack for GB but what of this Entity in the middle? It would be great to be as mature as GMAC but probably not realistic for most sports persons forced to decide.

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      Wolftone Wesley 5 years ago

      Wow..iv just read 14 months of some very diverse mindsets on this blog, both interesting and sometimes disturbing. I tought id give my opinion as im both staunchly Protestant and Republican.I for one believe ultimitly that Rory has every right to itentify himself as a British Catholic just as Wolftone, Emmett, Childers, Wilde, Butt, Yates,and Sam Mc Guire to name but a few were immensly proud just as I, to be Irish Protestants.But i cannot and will not accept that the National Flag should be changed just to appease certain people and to further politicial correctness, Steve this may sound harsh but i feel that as you are English you could never understand the full meaning of the tri-colour, it is intertwined with our very identidy, it was formed in 1848 as a flag of peace between our traditions, green for ireland orange for britan and white for peace, let me also tell you that no matter what colour flag you have, if someone does not feel Irish no flag in the world could change the persons mind. I come from a proud Methodist family in the south and i have family up north but other than religion we have very little in common because they, like many others of a similer mindset(not all), would never ever accept any form of Irishness no matter what colour flag, and i absolutly accept this as I equally will never accept a union jack as my flag of homage.unfortunatly many unionists would see Rory's alligence as a scource for verbaly scourging their inferior Papist neighbours, as equally us Irish would feel the same if it were the other way around. finaly I would like to wish Rory all the best for the future but as an Irishman ill just shout for our own golfers and also a very mature greame mc who just left the issue alone. Godbless all

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      kittyryan 5 years ago

      Hear, hear Steve.

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      Steve 5 years ago

      Another perspective.

      I am English, i have lived here for 17 years have 6 Irish children.

      I love Ireland and cheer on the Irish team over the English at any sport, rugby, soccer and of course golf.

      My kids love Rory, Graham, Padraig, Michael Hoey, Paul McGinley, Shane Lowry and Arthur Pierse (most capped Irish amateur and former Walker cup player), they are golf mad and as far as the are concerned the afformentioned are ALL Irish. They don't remember the black and tans or the bombings in Oxford Street at Christmas .

      My faith in humanity mandates that I am not alone in my view that all of that crap got us all nowhere.

      Maybe it is time for a new flag that speaks to the inevitable and united essential Irishness that binds us all together.

      Well done the Irish team at the world cup. And to the rest of the planet, get used to us being there or there abouts.

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      deno 5 years ago

      you would not think so. glad this debate seems to be settled then .

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      Deno ??????-we know he's from N.I.

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      deno 6 years ago

      just get over it and accept that..surprise surprise..rory chooses to display the flag of his country.. simple as that..now i would suggest all the detractors go and find another issue to argue over and let rory and co get on with bringing yet more glory to his place of birth northern ireland

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      The win against Australia was magnificent-when have the Ulster boys ever let us down- going back to Jack Kyle,McBride,Gibson-the list is endless.Ferris has been a monster since his return-Bests offloading and scrummaging just superb

      In the warm up to the last rwc there was a game played against Italy in Ravenhill 'cos the Aviva wasn't ready.I dont think 'twas even reported in the south-an example of how we are slowly drifting apart-Unionist politicians called for GSTQ to be played and the Union flag to fly just as the Tricolour and Soldiers Song(which has to be at least as much of a dirge as the much derided Irelands Call)is played in Dublin.

      The IRFU refused-I gather on the grounds that since the stadium is outside the RoI it is deemed to be away so just Irelands Call and the IRFU flag was flown. This is an insult to those guys I mentioned above.Trevor Ringland, who,typically, has attacked the UUP leaders statement that he wouldn't attend a GAA match,was very critical and it is fellows like him who carry moral clout on these issues.The Ulster Branch were fully behind the decision however-no doubt in the hope of attracting Catholics to the cause among other things.

      As an exercise I often try to assess ,in my own head,how valuable the Irish rugby team is to us.Could a price be put on it-a cross border,cross community team which is a force at world level? And we let this sort of damaging thing happen.If we had an agreed flag this kind of thing would be put to bed for good

      On a different thread-I have ,like most southerners now ,friends who've moved to Aus.One of them is working with a group of Tongans at the moment.When Ireland walloped Australia last Saturday one of them gave him 50 dollars for his Ireland jersey so he could go around sticking to the Aussies--magic

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      Padraig 6 years ago

      Matty, I presume the yellow flag of Ulster would be more endearing to Catholics and not Protestants from NI/The North in the context above as it is the official flag of the 9 counties and not the 6?? Hence the need for an official flag of Ulster that represents both communities. We could have a flag that has Orange to represent Protestants and Green for Catholics and white for peace...Oh that's right we tried that already..just kidding everyone:)

      On a serious note how about one compromise on both sides from the current....yellow(Ulster Provincial color) instead of white, keep the Red Hand(No change O'Neill Emblem) and use the St. Patrick's Cross(X in the Union Jack) instead of the Regular red Cross (Burke's Family Cross)??

      It would be easy to say "have Catholics use the Tri Color and Protestants use the White Unofficial flag of N.I." but that is the exact dilemma that both communities have in NI....especially Rory McIlroy who is in a win/lose situation when he picks the white flag but is Catholic (He shouldn't be forced to pick).

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      MattyBalmer 6 years ago from Ireland

      Padraig, the white flag you are referring to is the unofficial flag of Northern Ireland. The yellow one is the official flag of ulster. That displayed with the tri-colour shows that the protestants that are ulster supporters who do not support the tri-colour are not being forgotten in the world cup as they are there to support their country and the addition of the ulster flag makes them feel more welcomed to the national rugby team.

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      Padraig 6 years ago

      Did anyone see Our All Island(Ireland) Rugby Team smash the Australian Rugby Team over the weekend in the Rugby World Cup? Best and Ferris had a fantastic game, although Ferris may end up being sited for dwarf throwing...He picked up their scrum half with the ball and ran half way down the field...it was hilarious!

      It was great to see the team gel 100% Munster, Leinster and Ulster...it was stunning.

      I just wish more people could play the game (more Catholics North of the border and become seen as a less elitest sport south of the border). Their were two flags present when they sang "Shoulder to shoulder" The Tri Colour and a Yellow Flag with the Red hand of Ulster and red cross..I presume St. Georges??...this confused me as I thought the NI flag(or flag used) was white with red cross and red hand of Ulster??

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      Hi Matty-we both know we are Irish Matty but we are in a quite different situations.I live in a state where Irishness is not challenged- you live in one where over 50% have fallen back on the British identity which is not a nationality in itself.To be British you must be English,Welsh,Scottish or Irish but they wont embrace being Irish because of where we have brought it among other things

      It is interesting to watch them even here on this site.They are itching to have a go at us here in the south but they wont say boo to you lot because they know they must share Northern Ireland with you all.With regard to the Catholic players declaring for RoI ,rather than the N.I.soccer team, which you refer to-they are more or less saying to us-'those are our taigs not yours'.Obviously there's a funny side to this but also a serious one.They want to build a decent little place with you where all your children can live in peace.In doing this it is clear that neither side is going to get all its own way.

      To my way of thinking the Catholics in N.I. must respond generously to this while simultaneously insisting on strong ties with the south but also prodding the south into moving closer politically to the north.To me this means getting the south to rejoin the Commonwealth.This might have the effect of bringing us closer to the Ulster Protestants but it would certainly just as much, bring us closer to Ulster Catholics

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      MattyBalmer 6 years ago from Ireland

      It all depends on what you believe in. I live in the north of Ireland and I am a republican who accepts my flag to be the green, white and gold of the tri-colour and I guess that's why Catholics from the north play for the republic because they play under their flag. Also a catholic playing for northern Ireland has to play to songs from their own supporters against their religion and beliefs. And listen to what they believe to be a foreign anthem.

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      Hi Padraig

      I'm laughing at your sex change analogy for dumping the tricolour-glad to hear you're secure in your sexual orientation.I fully admit that if I could get the 'Irish' to do what I wanted I would support a yellow flag with pink spots,however,I dont think it's a likely outcome so we're all safe from that distasteful eventuality.

      Its very clear you are a patriotic man as everyone contributing to this discussion is or we wouldn't be here thinking about this stuff.On the question of identity I believe that the British form of it really equates to Scandinavia or Iberia -allright with a bit more oomph.It is for this reason that I support the notion of the 'British Isles' as a geographical region with very strong cultural ties going back into antiquity.To be a Celt is therefore a very British thing as we are found nowhere else except these islands or areas settled by us.In the 19th century I believe Cardinal Newman wanted them called 'the Western Isles' but this hasn't taken hold so we're stuck with 'British' which doesn't put me off in the slightest but upsets some people.Again ,like the flag, if they were called 'the Ar**hole Iles' I wouldn't care so long as it was a uniting rather than a dividing force. I have no interest whatsoever in what the 'Brits' did to us in the past-you might as well talk about what stone-age people did to each other-we would have done the same to them if we had been lucky enough to have been united by the Romans first

      What I'm concerned with here above all is finding common ground with our brothers in the wee north and to do this we have to row back a bit on the seperatist stuff down here.That is why De Valera was, in fact, against our leaving the Commonwealth.We cant promote any real unity on this island unless we accept some kind of British identity and,likewise, Unionism cannot promote unity in N.I. without accepting an all-Ireland dimension-or so you would expect.

      Instead I get this feeling that the SF element couldn't be arsed about anything which falls short of a united Ireland,the SDLP sector are happy to refer to themselves as Northern Irish and the Protestants range from being British-Irish to being virulently anti-Irish,but in general when they use the words Northern Irish they mean not Irish. In the south here we can do something to include the British-Irish but by definition the name Northern Irish excludes us, yet it is viewed in Nationalist circles as a compromise term. We are prodding the Prods into being N.Irish instead of British when in fact if we accept their Britishness it might allow them to be Irish

      You know-it's great to have such trifling concerns and its probably an indication of not having a life-or enough real problems but in any case it's great that no one is fighting over it any more- but I will say one thing-if you northern people are setting up your own country up there-tell us-we can wave our tricolours and accept that we are different countries not just different states,we can be good neighbours-We can move away from the embarrassing habit of claiming Northern Irish people as our own

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      deno 6 years ago

      sorry kittyryan.did not realise you didnt get all the golf news there.it great that you still feel proud of our boys achievements and we can look forward to many more to come.however it would be nice if they were allowed to identify themselves with the flag or nationality of the country they are affiliated to without having to feel the need to explain themselves .there are many cases where sports stars in boxing etc from ni identify with the tricolour with the shorts they wear and flags they display and still expect and generally get the support of the country. and padraig you are dead right right the flag of the roi in no way represents ni as a state and the ni flag dos not represent the roi.so it is what it is and until this changes..if ever..our golfers etc will be free to choose what they feel is the flag of the country they were born in. ni is still part of the the uk as has been firmly established again in the good friday agreement and it would be very difficult to design a new flag for ni that had any recognition of our uk link without offending nationalists.so in the meantime i would suggest we make the best of what we have and show our respect for each others culture and nationality and give support to all our sports men and women regardless of what flag they choose.

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      kittyryan 6 years ago

      Hi Deno

      I contributed to this blog months ago and you will see that I am from NI and proud, very proud of the achievements of all our golfers from such a small place. I live in Australia and we are stuffed to the gills here with Aussie sports people. If Rory were to get a mention it would only be if he was in a field with Aussie golfers! I don't have Foxtel etc so am not wholly up to date with European golf but thanks for the news.

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      Padraig 6 years ago

      Hi IreNiall, While I may be moderate I am still patriotic and a nationalist through and through.We definitely have a dilemma here with flags that represent an all Ireland sport like Golf and Rugby. While the Tri Colour may be abhorrent to most Unionists removing it is really not a possibility as the ROI is a legitimate State just like France. It would be like Britain being asked to remove the Union Jack. It would be paramount to having a sex change for most people from the ROI :). For all Ireland(Island) sports I believe a new Northern Ireland Flag acceptable to both communities should be introduced.....that way if you are from the ROI you can pick the Tri Colour and if you are from NI you can select your flag(which represents both communities). Again this is for the people of NI and not something that should be imposed from the south. The Union Jack encompasses the three countries which have their seperate flags so this may be something to look at....the only problem is the Tri Colour as you mentioned definitely does not encompass ROI & NI....any suggestions from people who live in NI/The North?

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      deno 6 years ago

      kittyryan you must not read the sports pages.rory has just played the european masters and the klm open over the past 2 weekends.there was a top field of players in both evnts and he came third in both moving him to a career high third in the world golf rankings.he hasnt gone away ya know..not only northern ireland should be proud of him but all of ireland.i would hope that all the good people in the republic get behind him as we do in northern ireland and just enjoy the best and most exiting and naturally talented player in the world show the americans how its done..

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      kittyryan 6 years ago

      Lorcan - I meant to comment on "the independent Northern Irish State' suggestion of yours - I thought that was what they had and it didn't work. What do you mean? Isn't that what the past 40 odd years of misery has been about?

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      kittyryan 6 years ago

      Hey! I'm back - down but not out. I wholeheartedly agree with you deno 100% although this hub has been so enjoyable and a fascinating read. Lorcan I think you are mixed up. A 'Protestant Parliament for a Protestant State' is a term attributed to political institutions in NI between 1921 and 1972. Devalera founded Fianna Fail in 1926 but was not head of Government until 1932. My point being - if he did boast of a Catholic State it was to counteract the Unionist sectarian assertions and all part of the argy bargy. He definitely wasn't the instigator of this line of triumphalism.

      And yes, we haven't heard anything much about Rory lately other than where his testosterone is leading him. Has he played anymore major tournaments lately? We don't get much news about him down here.

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      deno 6 years ago

      back to basics.northern ireland is extremely proud to be the golf capital of the world and all the detractors should get over it and stop using sectarian arguments to take away from the wonderful achievements of gmac rory and darren and ive a feeling there are many more to come so no more sour grapes please

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      Lorcan 6 years ago

      Those blaming the situation on the English solely are pretty far off the mark;

      While we can look at the Normans, Cromwell and the Plantations as the source of the problems in Northern Ireland, the reality is that de Valera did as much to hamper attempts at unity between the north and the south as any other figure in Irish history. By creating a strictly Catholic state, he alienated Protestants in the North at a time when he should have looked to create an inclusive state in which Protestants would be treated with as much respect as Catholics, at a time when the Irish Free State was still a British dominion, with the King as head of state.

      The key question, then, is to ask WHY Unionists in Northern Ireland would prefer to be part of a union with England, despite their cultural proximity being more in line to the south. Is it for pride, for heritage? Surely those Unionists in the north who give equal identification to being 'Irish' as 'British' would value a link with the south? Seeing as the Queen serves purely as a representative role, what sense does it make to ally your whole nation's identity behind a lovely, yet essentially useless, old lady?

      As well as this, why identify with being British, a title few outside Northern Ireland would put as their principal nationality. Living in London, I've never once heard anyone refer to themself as British, and from my visits to Scotland, the few who would tend to hang around Ibrox on a Saturday afternoon.

      So,my point is, why would Northern Ireland want to part of an ailing and out-dated union, one which will in the next 20 years be without Scotland? Surely the prospect of a union with the South, who would treat the Northern Irish with respect rather than the disdain the English do as a drain on public funds, with spending more than 20% higher on the average person in NI compared to England under the Barnett formula, (where at one point during the Troubles 80% of England favoured Unification) would be more favourable?

      And if not that, at least an independent Northern Irish state? that would be a compromise which would at least appeal to disaffected nationalists.

      In reality, the only reason I can see for Northern Ireland wanting to remain part of the Union is economic (who can blame them with Ireland in the gutter), or historical, which would come as a bit ironic given the protestations of many for the Irish to forget the British crimes of the past...

      And in relation to McIlroy, which has long ceased to be the subject of this article, he can use whatever flag he wants. If that pisses Republicans off, so be it. In this world of free speech we live in, we have to respect the beliefs of others without enacting prejudices on them for those views.

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      @ Padraig-hi Padraig-I find it interesting that as a moderate person you would prefer to keep both flags rather than invent a new flag which would represent both sides.While this is fair I fear that it wouldn't solve the problem we are having.

      My thinking on the subject is that the tricolour suits us fine down south here but up north only about 40% have a loyalty to it and this 40% know that the other 60% find it unacceptable.The Unionist majority want to rid N.I.of the open hostility of the 'Irish' up there and given that their own Ulster banner is not very old and is in any case unnacceptable to the Taigs,they are,in my opinion, quite open to the idea of a new flag.This isn't some minor issue for academics in their ivory towers -there are a few websites out there where this is being discussed in some serious manner and there have been unofficial attempts to introduce one which were abandoned,presumably because of lack of agreement.

      It seems clear to me that Northern Catholics at this stage ,want to make N.I. work as a state,they are happier and feel at home there now,they have parity of esteem,in polls one third of them declared themselves as Northern Irish rather than Irish so sooner rather than later the Unionist side are going to broach the subject of a new agreed flag and the northern catholics ,who still want an all Irish flag willcome south here to us and say 'The Prods want to agree a flag with us but they're not having the tricolour-will yee agree to a new flag that we can all agree on'.If we say no those Catholics will go back up north and agree a flag for N.I. alone and they will be right.If that happens we can all forget about whether Rory and the others are Irish or not -they will be Northern Irish and nothing else.Basically if we want any kind of all - island dimension to our sporting and cultural affairs we better be ready with some other answer other than no when those northerners come calling.-This is my thinking anyway and I dont think it will work out any better if we just let it slide and hope it goes away

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      Padraig 6 years ago

      Neither Ireland or Ireland exist as countries today. The ROI Constitution laid claim to the 6 counties until 15 years ago.So by Irish law people were 100% correct in saying they were from Ireland. The absolute majority in the ROI voted to remove that claim to the 6 counties after the first agreement. I, just like anybody from the 6 counties can be called Irish if they so desire. I am from technically the ROI which we generalize as from Ireland because that is almost the whole Island...that is not going to change. Both sides of the community in the North/NI. can say the same if they so wish.

      Agree Dave it is not fair to have the Tri color as the only flag for all ireland sports like golf and rugby. Rather than compromising both traditions and having some half baked watered down flag we should use both flags that represent both sides today. I not sure if most in the ROI will ever agree to singing a Northern Irish anthem that would ever include God Save The Queen or the Union Jack however so we may have a catch 22 here.

      ~Dave, In rugby and golf you and I can continue to say Ireland as these are all Ireland sports....;However football and other representations should be ROI...in fairness to WCup Football ROI is what is mostly represented in the media.

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      Dave -you make some pretty good points there-of course all-Ireland teams should have a flag reflecting both traditions.In the golf there is effectively a two team situation whereby the golf union administers two teams for the main competitions and one team under the tricolour for the lesser ones .The sheer strength of N.I.golf is giving them more than a fair shake but the flag issue should be sorted out anyway.Its fair to say Dave that the Ulster banner is the flag of loyalty for a small majority of N.I.-the tricolour has the loyalty of a large minority in N.I. and RoI

      There's no flag there for both sides and the issue that is going to arise in fixing this is this-is there going to be an agreed flag for N.I. or all-Ireland.Dave which one do you want.Is there any way that when next you are talking to your Welsh friend you could say you were Irish and British instead of Northern Irish and British

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      Dave 6 years ago

      The original question posed of "why would he agree to play for Ireland under the tricoulour?" should be more accurately phrased "Why is the all-Ireland Golfing Union flying a Tricolour in the first place?"

      Indeed it is a fair point that sports which represent both north and south that the team needs to be more clear what it is. As far as I'm aware the golfing team is not an RoI team so shouldn't be under the tricolour.

      OTOH, the RoI Olympic team is a RoI team and it should be clearer that it is as such.

      I think the one thing that could be done to clear up such messes is for the 26 county Republic to officially stop calling itself "Ireland". THIS is the primary source of all the ambiguity, and it pisses off both Northern Unionists and Nationalists alike.

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      Dave 6 years ago

      Paul is correct. This seems more like a Southern Irish "identity crisis" to me. After decades of believing that they were merely "Irish" and there country is merely "Ireland" some southerners may be waking up to the fact that this isn't the whole truth. In NI the average person who says that they're both British and Northern IRISH (a la British and Welsh etc) is more honest than a Southern Irish person simply claiming to be Irish, not Southern Irish (as I've often witnessed too).

      The hundreds of posts here raving on in outrage that someone from the other side of an international boundary doesn't have exactly the same narrowly defined version of Irish identity as them reeks of insecurity about their own identity. Essentially saying "HOW DARE someone from another sovereign state not have the same identity as us? The word Irish means what we say it is".

      Only when both northern and southern identities are acknowledged and respected can a simple and inclusive Irish identity be more cherished. As the saying goes "good fences make good neighbours". Unfortunately southerners want to shove their southern anthem and southern tricolour as apparently being inclusive, while deriding the inclusive symbols as being "mickey mouse flag with a mickey mouse anthem" (as the author has done here).

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      Padraig 6 years ago

      Paul, I am glad to see you embracing the Northern Republican....at least you know where you stand eh?.It must be very annoying and confusing to say the least to hear a moderate republican view point...enough to make one see red....even worse someone from the south.....it must be like drinking watered down beer.

      Lighten up, enough with the insults about us Southerners...it makes you look like youve never got out of the 6 counties..... Spend some time abroad...and I don't mean the Isle of Man.

      Did you see McElroy's tweet on The Queen laying a wreath at Croke Park (to the English rugby team) ....now that is funny! now that's northern humor.

      ~Speaking of which, you should come down to Dublin and watch Ireland (Ulster boys in tow) putting Australia to the sword in the Rugby World Cup.I will understand if you only follow Norden Iron footie though.

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      For God sake Paul-I dont see any of that in Padraigs posts.Also if you're going to criticise people in the kind of language you use it would be better to establish your credibility in advance by showing that you realise that your own side hasn't been perfect either.After all,right around when De Valera was in power a Prime Minister of Northern Ireland said he 'wouldn't have Catholics about the place'.Obviously not an intellectual giant and ,I hope, not a typical product of the N.I.education system.Of course we can all see the other guys bias-our own ones are the very ones we dont see or we probably wouldn't have them in the first place.

      Of course a common feature of people who are lucky enough to live in a peaceful country is that they become complacent and have a lack of polarisation about their political views.As a result they are often woolly and uncertain and can sometimes unthinkingly trot out stuff that will annoy someone who knows whats going on.Ok-hardly a hanging offence.There is ,I'll grant you,something very unequivical about looking up the wrong end of an IRA gunbarrel.If you enjoy the honesty of this Paul then it's obvious you people up there are made of sterner stuff than us.

      Finally Paul your desciption of yourself as a rather liberal Unionist reminds me of the joke that was going around some years ago about what the definition of a moderate Repulican was-a guy with only one gun

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      Paul 6 years ago

      Padraig, you seem to have become obsessed with me, even though I have expressed in a few short sentences what is a rather liberal Unionist viewpoint of embracing an Irish identity.

      Sounds like nothing more than the truth hurting. People like Rory McIlroy are NOT the ones with an "Identity Crisis" here, and this thread shows that. The Northern Irish version of identity is one that is much more honest and real than that in the south. Southerners (after following the likes of De Valera) have hijacked the terminology of "Ireland" and "Irish" and this thread is a shining typical example of such ignorance. I have even met southerners who have been "offended" at being called Southern Irish - sounds like Padraig is one of the similar type and can't be honest and accept the fact that his interpretation of what an "Irish" identity is isn't the whole truth.

      More telling is this drivel: "you should visit your brethern in the capital now and then and see what a moderate bunch we are...not the rabid republicans you dream about.

      ~Me thinks you spend too much time in your 6 counties listening to the propoganda spewed out daily by your government DUP + Sinn Fein.."

      Delusion at it's best. I have met hundreds of people from the south in my travels and often discussed politics etc. with them. When in comes to politics I have a lot more respect for northern Republicans than I do for southerners piously lecturing us how "moderate" and more civilised they are by comparison - that is because Northern Republicans are much more HONEST (and when were talking about Sinn Fein and Gerry "not in the IRA" that is saying something!). The problem with southerners is that they (deludedly) THINK that they are being "moderate", and many of them genuinely believe it, but they really cannot see their own bias. Many southerners are proud to be from the Republic and wave the flag of the Republic - the problem from many of these southern hypocrites is that they view anyone in the majority in Northern Ireland who are proud to be Northern Irish or British as must be being some sort of "rabid Loyalist" (even though it's simply being proud of where you're from). The only way that many of these southern hypocrites view any Unionist from Northern Ireland as being "moderate" is if they only acknowledge any Irish aspect to identity (particularly a very narrow version of an Irish identity) and abandon all others. It's no different to a Spanish person telling a Portuguese person that they aren't "moderate" unless they swear prime loyalty to Iberia and Spain and stand proud under the Spanish flag.

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      Padraig 6 years ago

      Alistair, too funny, I love it! Although it might be easier to rename the Isle of Man "New Caledonia". Change the Corporation tax to 5% undercutting the ROI. The remaining population in Northern Eire will now be speaking Irish exclusively guaranteeing no foreign investment. With an Orangle flag and a dutch coach in tow New Caledonia will beat the Germans in the next world cup final! Bingo, it will be richer than the Cayman Islands...no need to plough the fields.

      It looks like Paul and Pat will end up in government together DUP & SF.

      Pat even though your thesis does give creedance to the propoganda that Paul has been forced to inhale it is 400 years to late. It would be easier to move the Isrealis out of Palestine (only 60 years).

      As I said before it is easy for me to pontificate as I grew up in the ROI where most have learned that Nationalism and Religion can both be poisonous if used in the wrong measure. I would not dare tell you to recallibrate as you have lived through this. I however cannot ignore the biggest part of the equation in this Entity. I will continue to "pander" to what's moderate and prcatical from both sides(Unionsit & Nationalist).

      I dare say the war is over and battles are being fought for cultural, language, jobs and equal opportunity to 3rd level education.

      One day the money will be cut off from London and do not rely on money from Dublin...it will be interesting to see if both sides will come together and stand on its own two feet....me thinks it can and will!

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      'paddy-brit crossbreeds'-'prior ancestral experience....'-my sides are aching Alistair-you're obviously not taking Pats post very seriously-jesus Alistair I thought you Prods were supposed to be a bit straightlaced

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      Alistair 6 years ago

      So "Brits out, end of" is the solution eh? Genius.

      Be fascinating to see what would happen if the 1 million plus people in NI who claim some element of "Britishness", not to mention the 1/4 of a million in the ROI who also put that down on a recent census were suddenly evicted. You think the south has problems with ghost housing estates now? Imagine what it is like when people in the 26 counties realise they can nip up the road and live in Rory McIlroys house for nowt!

      Also, I am wondering where we would be evicted to? Britain is a pretty crowded place so not sure there would be a good idea. With nearly 1.5 million on board the evacuation ship it probably is too many to take over an uninhabited tropical island, as nice as that sounds. Maybe some part of Australia? It is sparsely populated, but the coastal areas with available fresh water are few and far between, plus, with the aversion to sun that many of us "Brits" have it probably isnt a sensible thing. I am thinking probably the southern island of New Zealand is probably the best bet. Weather like here but a little better, scenery similar to here but a little bit bigger, speak the same language as the locals (roughly) and not overly populated. As an added benefit if we get there in time we could swap being extras in Game Of Thrones for a chance to be in The Hobbit!

      If that doesnt work out, here is a bit of a wild idea. Zimbabwe. Sounds daft initially but think on a little more and it makes sense.

      - Zim is not very crowded due to Uncle Bobs population reduction scheme. Plenty of space for us to move in.

      - We could create a brand new Londonderry and not have to occasionally drop the "L" bit.

      - Farming there is in crisis due to 99% of the people who know how to do it being dead or gone - could be revitalised by the arrival of people who do know how to do it (though might be a change for them in that they have to grow crops and animals primarily to sell rather than to get EU funds for). Imagine the headlines in the african papers "White people with Irish accents who swear they arent irish and get annoyed when people call them irish solve Zimbabwean food crisis!"

      - Prior ancestral experience of booting natives off their land.

      - Locals would probably like to join in on orange marches rather than protest them - though they might want to liven up the bands and the costumes - hard to disagree in that case.

      - 1.5 million angry paddy-brit crossbreeds more than enough of a critical mass that Uncle Bob couldnt push us around.

      This is the solution people. Zimbabwe here we come.

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      pat 6 years ago

      Thats very complicated Padraig,

      let me simplify it 4u, brits out,end of.

      Ireland has 32 counties,it is an island nation.

      every mothers son born here is Irish,stop pandering to unionist bigots.

      norn iron was created so as unionists could keep their hands on power and wealth and keep the croppies down,fuck the brits,they brought this trouble here and have propagated division among the people,

      as the song says stick ur union jack,we want our country back.

      anyway as previously said,northern ireland is not a country,or a province,or Ulster, it is part of all of the above tho, part of Ulster,part of Ireland,and part of the province of Ulster

      Saoirse Eire

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      Great story about Clark and the tricolour-what a good old guy he is.Ok Alistair I think you've won the argument on that one-meself Padraig and Clark at a party-sounds good-I think there would be carnage.

      I wasn't for one minute offended by your description of us as RC,Gaelic etc.-my long-winded defence of Gaelic was intended to show that there is overwhelming cultural unity across these islands-nothing else.Forgive my clonking stumblings,I know I'm asking questions that northerners dont need to ask because they know it instinctively,but we are slightly removed down here and need it spelled out more.I've been taken to task already over it so I dont want to provoke another lashing.

      My general idea is that the differeces between us are of political allegience and nothing else.I didn't bring up the subject of a united Ireland back in the union because i think its likely to happen,I'm just asking if there is among Unionists a feeling of an all-island dimension.I consider Unionists who want all of Ireland back in the union to be much closer to me than those who dont care and just want seperation from the south.As you say, that ship has sailed but i think if you can see where people are coming from you can better see where they might go.

      I am occasionally amused when I hear ordinary Ulster people speaking in fatalistically resigned tones of the inevitability of a united Ireland,I think the notion that the Taigs would outbreed them was adding to this.The Taigs will outbreed them allright and they will vote for N.I. to remain as part of the UK.In every survey conducted north or south nationalists have made it plain they wouldn't pay more taxes for a united Ireland.Nobody wants to touch that subject with a bargepole.Back in 1922 there were two ships that sailed,not one

      So we can stand back and look at each other in frustrated impotence or we can grab the half a loaf thats available to us.So right ,here goes-this is my solution to the Irish problem-dont laugh

      1.Irish Republic rejoins the British Commonwealth and accepts the Queen of England as head of state while keeping the president

      2.Irish president is elected from all of Ireland

      3.An agreed flag containing elements of St.Patricks flag and the tricolour would be brought in and flown over the official residence of the president in Phoenix Park

      4.This agreed flag would become the official flag of Northern Ireland

      5.all sports and cultural representatives whether all-Ireland or not would be expected to perform under this flag.Ireland would be represented as one team in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.Sports would be officially encouraged to become cross-border.In the event of a clash between two Irish teams-the south changes to the tricolour -the north keeps the new flag

      Unofficially or even officially -the republic would promote the interests of all of Ireland at EU and international level.The north would do the same at UK level.-What do yee think lads -good or what?

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      Padraig 6 years ago

      Alistair- Well said my friend!

      I know Darren would definitely not exclude his fans from the south.

      ~I learned recently that Gaelic (Irish/Scottish) learning is becoming more common in NI with a little black girl speaking fluent Irish on the BBC.....wow! I know Prince Charles is almost fluent at the language which always ceases to amaze me. I believe he learned from some of the larger islands in Scotland where the language is still the main one.

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      Alistair 6 years ago

      ireniall - I have zero against someone learning speaking irish. My comment about "Irishness" being only for the RC Gaels amongst us wasnt meant to indicate any dislike for Gaelic interest or Roman Catholicism.

      As for the golfers irishness it is all very complicated but that is just the way things are. I think it does hit at the heart of the NI/ROI thing. Even for those who grew up as active or romantic nationalists in the north we are, like it or not, in a different country than the ROI. We largely watch BBC NI and UTV, not RTE and TV3. We do GCSEs and A Levels, not leaving certs. Our road signs are different. The taxes we pay are different. The currency we use is different. Our police our different. Our laws are different. We have a free NHS, you have a partially private one. We have the same uni admissions as Britain, different from the ROI. I could go on and on. Even for those who would have nationalistic leanings growing up in such a different environment is going to have an effect. For those who are of unionist leanings, along with the capture of "irishness" that I talked about in my last post it makes us seem even more different.

      All of this is going to lead to a lot of people from the north identifying strongly with first of all Northern Ireland above any all island Irishness or indeed Britishness. NI doesnt have a great deal of good news stories, so when it does everyone is going to play up the NI aspect of this story as much as possible.

      When Padraig Harrington won the Open many glasses would have been raised to him in NI. Vastly more than would have happened should even a popular British golfer like Westwood claim the title. Darren, Rory and Graeme winning though was on a different level. Theirs was like a brother winning it, Harrington was like a cousin, Westwood would be like a slightly more distant cousin or good family friend!

      I am sure Darren does not mean to leave Padraig, the golfer Padraig and yourself out of any parties and would be delighted if the 3 of you turned up. After all, this is a man who goes on about Northern Ireland golf all the time, who called the British Open his "home" competition but who in the last day or two said how important the Irish Open held in Killarney, his "national" competition, was and who jumped in with Harrington and McGinley under the ROI's tricolour at the K club joking - I better get under the orange bit of this.

      Complicated indeed, but thats just the mixed up way a lot of people in NI are regarding nationality.

      Regarding the United Ireland back in the UK thing. If you ask me personally - this would be my ideal consitutional position for these islands except for one little problem - the vast vast majority of people in the ROI who have no interest at all in it. It isnt even a vaguely realistic prospect and no matter what any unionist could say that boat has very much sailed, nobody has any interest in forcing it upon the southern irish people so why talk about it? Interestingly I remember around a year ago Ian Paisely Senior did say something about it, saying he hoped to see a United Ireland back in the Union. Doubt the big man will get his wish, and that is fair enough.

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      Padraig 6 years ago

      @ Paul, why the piss and vinegar.....("the dire state of education in the RoI" ...Many southerners only see "Irish" or "Ireland" in their own narrow Irish Republican/separatist definition".)

      Why can't you agree with Alistair and leave it alone.Alistair makes a fair point and you..... Is the standard of education better in NI..probably not! Almost half the population of the ROI live in Dublin. You should visit your brethern in the capital now and then and see what a moderate bunch we are...not the rabid republicans you dream about.

      ~Me thinks you spend too much time in your 6 counties listening to the propoganda spewed out daily by your government DUP + Sinn Fein...God forbid a moderate view can ever be heard in the Entity that is Northern Ireland.You are forced to listen to so much Sinn Fein propaganda you assume those "Southerners" have similar views.

      A Solution for you peeps on the otherside of the border on being "IRISH". I thought this was the case already.. Catholics call themselves Irish,Protestants call themselves Northern Irish.....this way everyones Irish whether you like it or not...just Kidding :)

      I will not pretend to have gone through any of the pain,hurt and inevitable hate that people from the North/Northern Ireland have gone through but the truth will set you free. Education unfortunately will not!

      One paradox I found disturbing when living in London was that very well educated individuals(from NI) could be equally likely to be sectarian or racist. So Paul I am not surprised by your knee jerk reaction but it does make me sad.

      NI should get a new flag so that no sports personalities are put in any dilemma again. Agreed on the choice of Saint Patrick's Cross with a shamrock thrown in..(Ireland's symbol is the harp)

      What these three boys are doing for the whole Island(& Britain) is fantastic. Whether they are 3 Unionists, Whether Darren invites me or another Padraig to his celebration doesn't bother me.It will not stop me from claiming them all. Although Padraig does have back to back British Open Titles which will probably be out of all three of the former's reach.

      It makes me feel good that Darren Clarke and I were born on the same day almost 43 years ago.I'll sink a few black ones in his honor.

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      @kittyryan-allright kitty-now you've made me feel like a bollox-i know i take this stuff too seriously-sorry for the rant-you obviously are a generous person-are the two of us not on the same side really?

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      kittyryan 6 years ago

      Ouch!Ouch!Ouch! Time I went on me way. God Bless, it was a great read. As for that stab at Nell - remember on the Late Show when they gave her a makeover and put her in a boned brassiere - she hooted with laughter and said "What about me - the first woman behind the wire!! That's what you get from Northerners - good humour.

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      @kittyryan-dear oh dear kitty-take up golf,broaden my mind etc.-ouch

      I didn't see your ill-considered post until I had finished my own one above -so I'll have to respond now in a seperate one

      Unlike yourself I've actually done you the honour of reading your posts before attacking but ,I guess,whatever

      I fully realise that Northern nationalists must get pretty irritated when they find people in the south who have the luxury of being fairly apolitical because of the uncontested nature of the southern state.Not being armed with the facts they often fall into very obvious traps as you describe

      There is however an equally irritating tendency on the part of some northerners(the offensive IRA apologist and general all round show-off Nell McCafferty comes to mind)to think that southerners, because they cant feel your pain,have ,therefore no right to any opinion about the Irish situation.I'm sure you made that poor old southern gobshite feel pretty small.You strike me as a person who enjoys handing out put-downs-not very generous.

      To make matters worse,having,unlike the rest of us,moved on to pastures new where everyone is so broadminded and tolerant you feel you have the right to preach to us from this high hill of moral superiority.It's a bit like the assumption foreigners often make that the Irish conflict is actually about the religion or something else equally small and unworthy.If the Irish would grow up they would see how stupid it is .Of course we in Ireland know very well that the Irish conflict is exactly the same as nearly all human conflicts-it's about power and privelege and the sharing of it in some manner which causes the least dissent

      In reviewing your posts it was quite striking to me the complete lack of any opinion being expressed in them.In fact you seem to be terribly concerned that nobody actually voices an opinion about these subjects as if it's just all too much and we wont be able for the consequences.Its like you think that with a bit of happy-clappy,tree hugging do -goodery this ancient quarrel will just disappear.What are you posting on this site for-it's here to discuss these things.In contrast to yourself i've made it clear what my opinions are.Of course it's typical of someone who has nothing to say, to target the messenger when they dont like the opinions they're hearing.Normally internet anonymity precludes this but i see you've had a go at it anyway.While your amateur psychiatry is laughably wide of the mark i would much prefer that you would debate what i am saying rather than who or what i am.Stop hiding in the long grass hoping that the large ,slow-moving targets you seem to prefer stumble into your line of fire. Come out and give us your opinions-if you have any

      Finally i wish to return the favour regarding the lifstyle advice which you so kindly gave me in your post.Read some more books-it'll broaden your mind -it'll make you happier-the golf isn't working

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      Hi Alistair-thanks for answering my post-i've been on holiday and couldn't answer your contribution sooner-but I see Paul and Peter have done an excellent job.I cant claim to actually speak Gaelic but otherwise I would describe myself along the same lines as they do. Gaelic is a language which is a remnant of a time when Celtic culture once prevailed across the whole of Europe.This cultural dominance was based on the Celts having been the first to use iron weapons(yes-they were imperialists lol)In the process they have left a legacy of placenames which obviously includes nearly all those in the Celtic countries, but also cities like Kiev,Lyon and yes London.Londonderry is ,therefore,deliciously,an entirely Celtic name.Gaelic ,the third language in Europe to be written down, after Greek and Latin,is the native language of both Ireland and Scotland and the Isle of Man.It is ,with its sister Celtic languages,Welsh(over 1m speakers)and Cornish(extinct),exclusive to these islands or those areas colonised by them.Since the only name that I am aware of ,which describes these islands collectively ,is 'The British Isles',it follows that Gaelic is a very British language.Yes it is a very Irish language but a British one too.The notion that there is a conflict between being British and Irish is a complete invention.It would be no more rediculous to claim that the Irish were exclusively different because of the different accent we have when speaking English.

      Regarding the three outstanding Ulster golfers,Alistair it is surely the case that if they felt any common ground as Irishmen,they would have mentioned Harringtons recent triumphs.That they have played for all Ireland teams in the past should have made it all the more natural.The exclusion of Harrington,the only southern golfer, can have only one reasonable interpretation-they dont feel any kinship with him or the south.Darren Clarks post-victory celebration was a party to which the south was not invited.

      While this is disappointing to me it is not surprising.Your own description of the success of the republican agenda and the inevitable and equally successful loyalist response to it is one that I agree with entirely.I note the obvious regret over it on your part and I'd say that many in the south would share that now.There is ,however one difference which concerns me about it.The Unionist tradition ,no doubt because of its minority position within Ireland,has no all-island dimension.There is no hankering after a return to the old UK ,which included all of Ireland ,to match the the hankering after a united Ireland which the republican side has(laughably -on their own terms of course).In countering the narrow nationalist message of Sinn Fein a united Irishman has a powerful argument-it further deepens the division of our country.However moderate Unionisms equivalent is that exclusive Loyalism further divides Northern Ireland only.Unionism is in the process of nation-building on the basis of a historic alliance with northern nationalists alone which essentially excludes the south as much as possible.

      This is of course a very good thing for everyone and far,far better than what went before,I hope and believe it will succeed.But forgive me if I have a little niggle.This has the potential to be a permanent and final division of my country.I want to be invited to the party.I want to be associated with the rotund ,Guinness swilling,cigar-puffing 42 year old who has taken some of the slings and arrows that life has to throw and come out on top

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      kittyryan 6 years ago

      Here we go again Ireniall NI, NI, NI- the politics of envy. This thread had taken us on a journey and in all directions psychologically and geographically - indeed the psyche of the country has been laid bare. Press Home on your computer you will find the beginning of the discourse was Rory McIlroy and he is from the Northern part not the Southern part! He is the one with the so-called identity crisis not Padraig Harrington. Golf is alive and well all over the country and to get 3 Major winners in the space of 12 months from a little place like NI is phenomenal. Be generous for heaven's sake. You remind me of someone in our Pub in Ireland back when the Presidential Election nominees (that Mary Robinson subsequently won)were coming forward. Some narrow-minded patron complained "What's Austin Currie running for - he's not even Irish"! Deathly silence and "Oops sorry Missus." Not to let him get away with it I reminded him that Austin Currie's wife was savagely beaten in her own home for being a catholic which equates with Irishness in NI. The Austin Currie's/John Hume history is well known in Ireland - so what more do they have to do. I can only imagine you are in the 30-40 age bracket which could not give you the breadth of understanding of Rory McIlroy,s situation or anyone living in N.I. You are stuck in that old "Mother Ireland" mode. Come into the light - broaden your mind -leave room for tolerance. You'll be a lot happier.

      Take up golf.

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      Paul 6 years ago

      Indeed Alistair - nail on the head. If anything, this thread shows more the dire state of education in the RoI than anything is.

      The fact is that the words like "Ireland" and "Irish" have been hijacked and have changed meaning for many in the south from their original meaning of simply the island. Many southerners only see "Irish" or "Ireland" in their own narrow Irish Republican/separatist definition under their own Irish separatist flag.

      Southerners also only see British as being "the other island", yet it could also be argued that ALL of Ireland is also British in the British Isles sense. Many Unionists see the archipelago as the more natural geographic/cultural unit and not the one isolated island. The reality is that if on the island we have more in common than not, then as much we have more in common than not in the archipelago.

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      Peter 6 years ago

      @ Alistair. In reality, I would actually doubt that unification of the 2 states on the Island is as big a desire for so called nationalists as so called unionists may actually imagine or even fear. I'm very identifiably Irish in so far as I am fluent in Irish, love Gaelic games, and identify strongly with the landscape and ancient monuments dotted across the state but I really have no desire to see a united Ireland, nor do I support any Scottish football teams, I rather like the Queen, laugh at English comedians, and support an English football club. I am comfortable with my heritage and can respective & enjoy others. To be fair a sizable but silent majority feel the same in the Irish state.

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      Alistair 6 years ago

      ireniall - you say these three golfers dont feel Irish, how do you know that? Many people from NI call themselves a mix of Irish, Northern Irish and British. I dont know to be honest where these 3 fit into that but Irish golf is organised on an island basis so they may feel comfortable with the Irish tag, probably alongside one or two of the others, but there nonetheless.

      You dont have to be nationalist, catholic and gaelic to be a proper Irishman, however this quite exclusive version of Irishness is something that has been widely propogated for the past 100 years or so. It has been wonderfully effective in cultivating a national identity in the Republic that is very different from the UK, as was its goal, but it has also had the effect of making those people who dont fit into this version of irishness abandon their claim to Irishness. At football matches at Windsor Park, hardly a bastion of nationalism, the fans up until the 1960s chanted "Ireland", not "Northern Ireland". Nowadays not all, but many of these fans dont feel "irish" at all, they feel exclusively Northern Irish and or British.

      I wonder if those who do propogate the more exclusive idea of Irishness ever stop and think their actions make 1 million people plus in NI less and less likely to want unification?

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      Here we go again -Northern Ireland,Northern Ireland,Northern Ireland-after Darren Clarks wonderful victory in the British Open everyone in the 'anglosphere' is aware of it-but no mention for good old Ireland.We have between us all won a substantial percentage of the last 20 or so majors but in the post victory celebrations there was no mention of Ireland or Padraig Harrington-just Northern Ireland-it was almost pointed.If it had been Padraig who had won there would have been a hell of a fuss-mention would have been made of all of them going back to Fred Daly-but no-Harrington,the only southern golfer ,the only one not mentioned.I'm afraid Barry(i've loved your posts) -if it was you -or maybe many of your friends , you would not have been found wanting in this regard but you are not representative.Those three northern golfers are no fanatics or anything like that.They just dont feel Irish.I wouldn't care if they came down here with sashes offering to save us from our Catholicism-if they agreed they were fellow Irish-i would listen to them-but this is not good enough,it's plain ,they do not represent us.I'm afraid I have to agree with Premierkj on that issue.We should really have our own southern team.

      I must respond to Will's recent,rather bitter, post.I personally utterly detest Sinn Fein/IRA and everything they stand for.Unlike most southerners i agree that quite a few of our own national heroes of 1916 were not one bit better than them.I suppose if the modern version of the IRA didnt exist we could go on adding to this Republican myth and in a few hundred years it wouldn't matter but we have seen all too closely the shameful,dishonourable sullying of our country's name.For some thirty years now Northern nationalists have been the de facto leaders of the Irish.John Hume(voted the greatest Irishman),Gerry Fitt and the others held the line against barbarism.It is ,therefore, Will,somewhat perverse that you attack us down here in the manner that you have-to the extent that i would question your description of yourself.It sounds more like an unreasonable loyalist position.It just is not credible that a northern catholic, two thirds of whom now vote for Sinn Fein,could berate southerners on the grounds of excessive nationalism.The one and only good thing about the border is that it keeps that crowd with their mean and small version of Irishness from poisoning the political system down here

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      Peter 6 years ago

      Wow, unbelievable. I'm a Kerryman (no jokes please) and a very lapsed Catholic who attended a protestant funeral last week in Tipperary and felt inspired by the humility of the congregation and beauty of the service. This thread is such an eye opener. Hopefully all those little people claiming or rejecting these fantastic sportsmen for one side or another represent a small minority. I think it is very clear that GMac, Rory, and Darren are trying to respect all traditions. It was an honor to be in Croke Park when the British anthem received the respect it deserved although attending the 18 all Ireland finals that Kerry played in since 1978 (when I wad 2) was obviously a big thrill. Proud to be Irish, I can speak the language, I love my national games, feel a strong spiritual identity with my local landscape in Killarney but as important is the respect I have for all traditions on the Island and warmt I feel for our close neighbours in Northern Ireland or across the Irish sea. Can we please remove that awful bigotry associated with Celtic / Rangers from these world class golfers? A time to move on and respect each other.

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      kittyryan 6 years ago

      They should bottle the water or whatever is producing those world-class golfers. A tiny place with big hearts. Go Darren -GMac and Rory enjoy.

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      Shaun 6 years ago

      An as for mcillory if he does choose to play an represent England he will loose alot of his support over here, the American people right now love him because he's Irish, an most Americans want to be Irish weather it's there great great great great great grandfathers father that owned a dog from Ireland or what ever they want to be Irish, I guess their brainwashed to after all they do call crisps. Chips lol

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      Shaun 6 years ago

      I'm going for a beer, to be honest this is silly an pointless, I'm Irish catholic. From co Antrim been living in the states for 5 years I miss home but DO NOT miss this bs, an the truth it's never going to change, it's only when u get away from it that u realize how brain washed u have become over this topic, half if not more of my friends over here are protestants they support rangers I support Celtic, they call themselves Irish as that is what they are, I'm getting married to a black woman next year who would make byeonce look like Vera duckworth, my family back home have not spoke to me since. So that gives you some idea of what your up against, like I said brain washed from an early age about religion an beliefs utter bullshit, who cares who cares what religion colour race or whatever any1 is, let's worry about paying next months electric bill or mortgage payment,making sure our kids have food on the table, I'm glad I'm away for all for that but I never forget who I am an where I come from, now that's enough of this silliness people, go get the kettle on an watch the soaps, them I do miss, god bless y'all

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      Will 6 years ago

      Rory McIlroy is Rory McIlroy. Im a catholic from Northern Ireland. I live in Northern Ireland on the Island of Ireland. I am Northern Irish as I don't see myself as Irish. I am sick of the way the Irish media and many southerners seem to think that wrapping yourself up in a tri colour makes you 'neutral'. IRA terrorists who were killed or killed themselves were buried under this flag and this flag is viewed as highly contentious by the community their victims came from.

      I agree Northern Ireland should have a flag of its own; the St Patricks cross,whereby our sportsmen would not be subjected to this torutre.

      Interestingly, conducting a google search I discovered there are numerous similar discussions around Darren Clarke praising him for appearing with a tri colour and hence almost claiming him a nationalist. Ironically at the same time, i was watching sky sports who asked Darren should Northern Ireland host an Open in Portrush. Darrens reply was yes because, 'Portrush is one of the finest golf courses in the UK'. Now will the same nationalist bloggers disown him becasue he publicly referred to Portrush, Co Antrim as being in the UK? Stop berrating these guys over their political and cultural beliefs. If they want to be Irish, Northern Irish whatever that is their personal opinion. People should take more notice not of the Ulster banner positioned beside their name or the NIR but the absence of the tricolour. If the assembley could agree on a new flag for Northern Ireland they would all fly it with pride, thus no need to be seen nervously holding one or the other, and I also firmly believe if NI had a new flag we will not be seeing Clarke, McIlroy or GMac pictured with a tri colour while competing for themselves.

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      Aaron 6 years ago

      Rory grew up a catholic, went to catholic primary school and a mixed grammar school where tolerance was promoted, he has a protestant girlfriend and may other friends from all persuasions, his family still goes to chapel, lives in a 90% protestant 10% catholic area, his uncle was shot and killed by loyalist paramilitaries (UVF), his family turned the other cheek to the madmen and got on with they're lives. Rory is trying his best to appease both sides of this ridiculous balls up of a situation we call home, call it what ever you want, its always going to be total nonsense. It’s a sad, sad affair…for the boy with the crazy hair lol. GO RORY!, DO IT FOR ERM ERR UMMM, DO IT FOR YER MA!!

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      premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland

      "this blog has been polite and engaging because it is edited and therefore lots of bad stuff won't be printed." -Kitty Ryan.

      Hi Kitty - There have only been two comments that I deleted and that was down to personal insults and blatant factual inaccuracies. I haven't deleted anyone's point of view about the subject at hand.

      Nigel - I'm not sure who you're talking about to be honest. Both nationalists and unionists have moved on and there is peace, which unless I'm mistaken is progress. However, if you think that we're all one happy island who should share the same beliefs and loyalties then you're living in a dream world of the most simplistic proportions. There is no warfare on this thread and nobody hates anyone - your comment is actually the closest to pure hatred I've read. You seem to hate the idea of an open and honest discussion about our differences and what our feelings are regarding this subject of identity and its influences. I suggest you should put your head back in the sand.

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      Nigel 6 years ago

      I am amazed at all the bigots who cannot and will not move on! Rory was born in Northern Ireland and NI is part of the UK, if he so wishes to show of the Ulster flag aroung his shoulders then so be it what is the problem with that!!!

      The sad thing is that there are so many people who will not move on and grab this opportunity to take in peace.

      Rory is great and can help heal the divide that sweeps the Island, for god sake all you people that cant move on and look forward to the future my answer to you lot is get lost you aint worth the taking up of the space you currently stand on.

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      riversdale boy 6 years ago

      listening to clarke today talkn about his little country and how it amazes him that so many players have come from there is just unbeliveeable..id alot of time for the guy but how can u say that about 6 counties...its not even a provense!

      this was a guy who was waving the tricolour on many occasions and he s also named his sons connor and tyrone!do they really get that soft when they live in england?

      for what its worth im a proud irishman and will never recognise n ireland but i wud like to see the country rejoin the union with britain..as this will bring about unity.

      it may be unpopular to some but chatting to alot of people i know in dublin it seems a popular choice to ending all arguments.

      sam is coming home

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      Big Jay 6 years ago

      If Rory doesn't play for Ireland in the olympics he is going to lose alot of fans in Ireland, but i guess it is his choice at the end of the day. On another point about footballers born in the north playing for the republic, maybe if some ''so called'' northern ireland football fans stopped sending catholic players bullets/bombs in the posts it might help. Be nice to see them all playing as one nation one in all sports, like the cricket and rugby.

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      kittyryan 6 years ago

      Well Brendan, we are getting a bit threadbare here. I need my education improved. When I was going to school we were told that there were four provinces in Ireland. Namely, Ulster, Munster, Leinster & Connaught. I always thought that when the song "four green fields, each one like a jewel" was sung they were referring to the Provinces and giving them equal status, yes even in song. Am I mistaken? I understand that the six counties is a British annexe - not a country and - Oh and I am not a Unionist! Jhdmbla - goodness me - are there 6 million people in Ireland now? Premierjk - I am not dyslexic but you ought to change your name and why have you that Satanic image as your profile. Clearly you are not (satanic i.e.) but it is off-putting. Also this blog has been polite and engaging because it is edited and therefore lots of bad stuff won't be printed. Anyone who wants Rory to 'pin his colours to the mast' has not lived through the savagery that was NI because if he does some bigot/extremist will make him pay for it. Now I have had my almost 70-year-old spiel and am looking forward to the British Open this week end. Cheers Kitty

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      premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland

      Britain's Rory McIlroy seems to have a monopoly over the Irish media this week. The stories from RTE have been one McIlroy headline after another. There's hardly been a mention of our own illustrious player who's competing in the Open - His name is Padraig Harrington, for those RTE viewers who may not have heard of him.

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      I dont know if that last comment is directed at me or not but i would agree with the general sentiment.I imagine that many in Northern Ireland are afraid to even raise such issues given the trouble which has been endured over them.However i'm not sure that ignoring each others positions is productive in the long run.I think this younger generation will manage much better if moderate people on both sides provide a framework for them to grow up in which has ironed out the points of conflict and provided an agreed path into the future.

      One other point.It seems obvious to me that deep down,nationalists do not want a united Ireland.Much like the Scottish Nationlist party which gets more support when it stops talking about an independent Scotland,nationalists in Ireland really view a united Ireland as more an aspiration which may well never be attained.They dont want to pay more tax for it and they dont want above all any conflict over it.The question is ,therefore,would the unionist side be happy with the idea of a united Ireland in every other way- a united people-proud to be Irish?Is the unionist community divided on this issue/

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      CHW 6 years ago

      Is it really so difficult for some of you to understand that many in Northern Ireland are no longer interested in the Catholic/Protesant nationalist/ Unionist argument? Why not let this younger generation grow up without all that bitterness? Stop trying to impose your fight on others.

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      ireniall 6 years ago

      i'm a southern catholic who is mildly nationalistic.i'm different from other southerners in that i dislike the border to the extent that i would prefer to have much closer ties with gb to get rid of it(the queen is fine but they're not having our president or our 12&1/2percent corporation tax lol,or their 7bn back-jesus the shame!)to me we have very strong cultural ties with the other island anyway since we are all anglicised celts to a greater or lesser extent-even the english- and have often strong family connections across the pond.i have therefore a bit of sympathy for rory mcilroy and the other northern sportsmen who are in the two nations dilemma.to me it is embarassing when some eejit forces a tricolour onto one of them when they've won something.they're usually too polite to refuse and then get themselves and their families back home into s**t from the neighbours as 'fast eddie' irvine and wayne mccullough have documented.it's disrespectful also-it could well be that they are from the other tradition but don't want to insult nationalist ireland by obviously rejecting the flag.personally i'm delighted that nearly all of these people still consider themselves irish but i view with absolute dismay the increasing tendency of the northern people of both traditions to view themselves as northern irish.when rory,graeme and darren play under a seperate flag,it leaves me a little bit empty.the answer is obvious.as many of the other contributors have already said,it's time to agree a flag for the whole island.nobody has to lose their own flag,just on the occasions that people represent the whole island,they would play under this flag.it could be agreed by the north/south parliamentary whatsit and would be an official flag for both states.to me the flag of st patrick would be ideal.it was incorporated into the union jack in 1800 after the infamous act of union and would therefore be likely to appeal to the 'prods'.it would get the northern sports people out of their pickle,which,i suspect,they would jump at and it would allow us to bask in the glory of nearly all of the marvellous sporting performers that seem to come from our small country so often

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      Ardillaun 6 years ago

      What a weekend! Had to PVR the golf and watch it backwards in case another Masters' surprise was in store.

      But, of course, as soon as he DIDN'T choke, new pressures were applied. How many Majors is he going to win? One is almost nothing, after all. And then the flag rumpus. It's a bit sad that our green, white and orange flag, symbolizing reconciliation between Ireland's two traditions, should cause so much tribal bickering but there you have it.

      One thing I do hope for - no golf, Irish or British, in the Olympics. I like golf, I play it and I watch way too much of it already. But the Olympics Games are the one event every four years where the best athletes in the world have our attention. It's bad enough cutting away from the 5,000 metres final for basketball. But for golf?

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      David 6 years ago

      It seems to me that there is some distastefull people who still live in this part of the world. I

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      bdbudda 6 years ago from Ireland

      Read this article and some of the comments while googling for article 's on McIlroy winning the US open and something about it that is very engaging. I am from the republic so when I think of my nationality it is fairly simple. Do I regard unionists as Irish, yes. They have been here for 4 hundred years so if they want to consider themselves Irish they have every right. We have a shared history with them even if for a lot of it we have been fighting with them. Think many unionists have a confused identity. Remember talking to a guy from Northern Ireland when I was in Liverpool. He asked me where I was from and I told him I was a fellow Irish man and he looked at me with an angry face. Think if I had told him he was not Irish he would also have been annoyed. Think the rugby is good, an Irish team without politics involved. Personally would have no problem with all Ireland teams playing under neutral flags and anthems at home and away but don't like the rugby anthem 'Irelands call' as it is not good. Taught McDowell's interviews were great after winning the US open, seemed a great story of a man from mixed background trying to represent both sides. Very surprised to read on here McIlroy is catholic, always presummed he was protestant due to his love of the old Northern Ireland flag. Was disappointed when he said he would choose GB over Ireland for the olympics as he is a great golfer and seems like a good guy but taught you have got to respect his identity. Still have to respect his choice but now seems completely bizarre given the history of catholics in Northern Ireland that the first Northern golfer to come out and nail his political colors to the mast is a catholic in support of Britain. Even in the profiles on TV of his family were talking of his grandfather working in Harlond and Wolff, he seems to want to portray himself as having an protestant background and ignore any catholic background which I don't like.

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      Barry 6 years ago

      I think Premierkj has heard many opinions on this blog and though I feel the sporting issues being debated here may not be quite as relevant as he initially thinks it's been great contributing and listening to the diverse opinions stated.

      In many ways this comes as no surprise. Our situation in Ireland is vastly complex - I think it's fair to say that, even as a Unionist, I would concede that partition was a grave mistake and I have held this view for sometime. It is also not widely known that at the time even Unionists didn't want it. It created the 2 states which were hugely imperfect and contributed massively to the polarised positions which sadly have existed for gnerations. Partition is a contributor for the complex nature of these arguments.

      However, we can't turn the clock back and it's too simplistic with the benefit of hindsight to lay the blame for this at the door of the people who were responsible - remember there were major concerns of a civil war and the sectarian killing could have been appalling in a 32 county free state.

      For Ireland to become closer it needs more economic integration, it needs more integrated education, it needs even more separation between church and state and most importantly it needs compromise from all our people.

      For Nationalists to feel cold towards Rory McIlroy due to the Olympics decision he has made perhaps they need to ask themselves why? For nationalists to truly appeal to Unionists they need to become persuaders not enforcers and there isn't enough of that yet. But it is getting better. Mary McAleese is wonderful. Recognition of all the Irishmen fighting (in the past and still today) in the British army is a big thing for Unionists. I have vistied a realtive lying at peace in a first word war grave; a great uncle who was an officer in the Inniskilling Fusiliers. This cemetery alone had over 1000 Irishmen in it. I was hugley moved by the experience and felt sad for all the 'nationalist' fellas in there long forgotten by their supposed new state. McAleese has changed that, the visit of the Queen has helped too. The airbrushing out of major events in our shared history is at last coming to an end. Don't get me wrong, Unionists need to concede too (but they of course would be ultimately making the biggest concession of all).

      Anyhow, sermon over!

      I wish all the Irish golfers at the Olympics whether they represent Ireand or GB/NI the best of luck equally and bring the medals back home to our island.

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      Brendan 6 years ago

      @ Barry, I agree with you,and I accept unionists will have a different view than me and thats their right and fine with me.

      If partition hadn't happened this country would never have known the 'troubles' what a waste of life and terrible tragedy it all was.

      I suppose the parts of the six counties where trouble still arises will take time to settle down, I think this has much to do with unemployment and deprivation in these areas as it is in cities around the world.

      Take the Queens visit here this year,it was great to see her here and thats coming from a nationalist.

      I dont know where the distinction is between nationalist/republican, I would like to see Ireland united as one country by peacefull means, i detest violence.

      I dont know if the unionists in the six counties realise how much people in the 26 would welcome them here,I think it would be great for politics to have a parliment/Dail for the whole island.

      We have to leave the past behind.

      I think Rory while a great golfer has made a mistake by alienating the people of the 26 counties,he had no need to,saying that though I wish him all the best.

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      Dónall Ó Murchú 6 years ago

      I've just spent the last couple of hours reading through this thoughful, provocative and learned discourse.

      The awful pity is people don't always think the way we believe they should. I grew up in a Nationalist household -one of a very few- in Andersonstown, I left in 1967 to spend a number of years in Zambia before settling in Dublin where I have been for the past 35 years. At this stage I feel very far removed from the 'North' of my childhood and of the present. Over the years I have been very aware of the prejudices and ignorances 'Southerners' have of all the Northern tribes -Nationalists, Republicans, Loyalists and Unionists. I would distinguish between Nationalism and Republicanism in the same way as I would distinguish between Loyalism and Unionism.

      I would know as much about rugby as I do about mud wrestling and would suggest they both have a lot in common but I have great admiration for the IRFU. I think 'Ireland's Call' is an example of how an effort can be made to be inclusive of more than one tradition even if some of my rugby loving friends don't fully appreciate and understand the thinking behind it. Mind you I am still looking forward to the 'leagan as Gaeilge'!

      Some people have mentioned the British or Irish appelation being applied to successful sportspersons by the media on this and on our neighbouring island. I have forever been intriguied by the manner in which so many people on this island can adopt and own English/Scottish soccer teams but then resent if anything vaguely similar happens the other way around.

      As I see it many of us do love to hate what other people stand for. We see ourselves in relation to others and we define ourselves by what we think we are not rather than what we are.

      We have a problem in accepting others for what they want to be themselves.

      Rory is a brilliant golfer. Go néirí leis go ceann i bhfad.

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      jhdmbla 6 years ago

      Kitty, I did see the tricolor tossed to him as he was walking to the scorer's hut after the US Open and it was gone by the next frame on the video.

      And speaking at his home club in Holywood yesterday, Rory said: "To think a European hadn’t won it for 40 years until Graeme did and now the two of us went back-to-back - it’s great. To grow up in tough (weather) conditions here, which there is at a US Open, helped us I think. But I don’t think you can explain back-to-back US Open winners from a country with a population of 1.5 million."

      Now I know emigration is picking up again (like in your and my time in the 80's), but there's no way he was referring either to the Republic or the whole island of Ireland. I agree with you, NI is technically not a country but a part (province if you will) of the United Kingdom, the same as Wales, England and Scotland.

      But in fairness, if two Scottish golfers or two Welsh golfers had achieved the same, they may have used the same type of language. What would be interesting is if Harrington had won the US Open last year instead, would Rory have used the same type of language. My guess is probably, though without the reference to "1.5 million", maybe 6 million would be more accurate!

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      Barry 6 years ago

      @ Brendan - I think Unionists would argue that the six counties of Northern Ireland is a country. When the state was established by the boundary commission and became a reality then it would have enjoyed equal status in the UK with Scotland and Wales, just as the whole of Ireland had done before.

      I suppose you can argue the toss as to whether the constituent parts of the UK are actually countries in their own right.

      So while nationalists may argue it's not a country Unionists will argue that it is.

      Regarding your point of the use of Ulster and the province, this is an annoyance of mine too. The province is 9 counties and Ulster is 9 counties. The state of Northern Ireland lies within Ulster's boundaries. It also particularly annoys me that some Ulster rugby fans (thankfully not too many) choose to wave the flag in question in this blog rather than the correct yellow/ red version. I am sure Tommy Bowe would not have felt represented by the NI version.

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      brendan 6 years ago

      @ kittyryan

      Just a point that always annoys me, unionists refer to the six counties as a 'province' or 'Ulster'

      It is neither, Ulster has 9 counties,it's not therfore a province, so whatever they want to call it i dont know.

      It's not even northern Ireland as that is Co Donegal,malin head to be precise.

      It's six counties in north eastern Ireland, hardly a nation is it?

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      kittyryan 6 years ago

      "Johnbhoy"

      I did not see the tricolour thrown at Rory at all - but I did hear him refer the the "small nation" that had produced two back-to-back US Open winners before he held the trophy aloft. Well Ulster is a province and I'm sure you will agree there is no way you could call NI a nation! One perceives what one wants to perceive. The Nation of Ireland is proud of Rory and recognises the bridge he is trying to establish between the two communities. He is wise beyond his years - so give him a break.

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      brendan 6 years ago

      @ jhdmba lol ud make a good detective,the premier county,ur prob correct.

      as for barrys comments i agree with u mostly barry, my point is we are all irish on this island,whatever religion or none.

      i have protestant neighbours,all gud people and fellow irishmen.

      this should all have been finished in the 1920's in my opinion.

      have one goverment for the whole island, get a flag and anthem that evryone can be happy with,be friends with our neighbours in britain and build our 32 county republic that includes and cherishes all its children equally.

      this crap has to end,people need to join together and leave the past behind.

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      jhdmbla 6 years ago

      Sorry Premierkj, I have to agree with Barry on most of his points. Rory will get a helluva welcome and not just from NI tourists and "deluded Republicans". The guy's Irish and he has represented Ireland in golf since his youth (who knew there was an U10 World Golf tournament, which he won incidentally). As importantly, he has fun doing it and gets the "craic" which is a very Irish, even Celtic thing.

      Yes, many Irish would root for Harrington over McIlroy, the same way that I root for Leinster over Ulster in rugby, but I also root for Meath over Dublin in any sport, Leinster over Munster and probably Ulster over Munster in rugby and any and every county (even Cork) over Kerry in Gaelic Football. But I would root for Tipperary over Kilkenny in hurling - there's something very Irish about rooting for the underdog.

      BTW, Barry, I'm guessing Premierkj is from Tipp, as it's sometimes referred to as the Premier County, like Meath is the Royal County, Cork the Rebel County, and Kerry as a bunch of loud mouth Culchies. (Also, I just noticed that the colors of the official County Down coat of arms are Green & Gold! Who knew?)

      Look, Van Morrison is as NI as you get (his Dad worked in the shipyards), and who's fascinated with his Ulster Scots roots - he likes the word Caledonia (like Hibernia but for Scotland and northern England) so much it's his daughter's middle name, the name of his first production company, his studio, his publishing company etc. - yet he's as Irish as U2, who are Dublin Northsiders (another breed apart).

      In fact, I don't think that it will hurt Rory in the US if he plays for GB/UK in the Olympics as the subtleties of the choices will be lost on most Americans (i.e., the stock "NI is part of the UK so he plays for the UK in the Olympics" will be enough of an explanation for most Americans, even the Irish-American cohort). I would just like him to play for the Republic as he would be our best chance for a Gold Medal.

      In fact, if there were enough cross-Border sports and/or participants, I'd be in favor of dropping the anthem and tricolor for any medal ceremony for those sports. They could raise a flag similar to the IRFU or Cricket ones (shamrock or harp with or without the 4 provincial emblems) and play the (London)Derry Air (as long as we could all agree on what to call it - maybe Danny Boy - to avoid that potential headache). Just not Ireland's Call - I happen to agree with Premierkj on that one - it works for rugby but we all still sing it with a semi-smile/smirk. For the Opening Ceremony, you could have the tricolor (and whatever is the official flag of Northern Ireland, if there is one by then) followed by the four provincial banners.

      After all, Taiwan (aka Republic of China) is not even called Taiwan in the Olympics, due to Mainland China's (aka People's Republic of China - sounds like a Monty Python sketch) sensitivities. It's called Chinese Taipei and has a special flag that's quite different to the official one. And it would allow the British team to use Great Britain or GB as their moniker rather than UK or GB&NI. Let's face it, they'll use GB/Great Britain anyway but at least this way it would be accurate.

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      Barry 6 years ago

      Premierkj

      I take your point about Rory representing Ireland at the World Cup and then GB/NI at the Olympics. My take is that Rory is probably very moderate in his viewpoint. Therefore it may only take a subtle influence to change his mind, I'm not really sure. However, if southern fans' support for him evaporates as you suggest I still think this would be a little sad.

      Regarding Ireland's Call I personally don't think there's anything wrong with it. I think it has relieved some (moderate) tension. Don't forget Ulster rugby fans stand and observe total respect for the Irish national anthem when played in Dublin. I have no problem with it and frankly enjoy the rousing tune. It's really a question of respect and I would also challenge the absolute viewpoint that all northern unionists and southern nationalists don't believe they are from the same country. As a very moderate unionist I accept that I am from a partitioned country. Rugby has helped me foster lifelong friendships with southern nationalists and in rugby we have a common bond that has also persuaded me to understand that these people are my fellow countrymen.

      There are various shades of Unionism. My shade is that I believe that currently we are better off with the UK on economic grounds. But that's all. I don't consider myself British in some way that is life & death like some more extreme versions of Unionism/Loyalism. In fact I have much more in common with moderate nationalism than of that brand of Unionism. I am deeply proud of my Irishness.

      I am not sure if you have spent much time in NI, but clearly these are issues that are important to you and I think I have challenged your viewpoints in a way you wouldn't expect from a Unionist. I am also well travelled in the Republic and I know that some of the points you make don't hold sway there as mere generalisations. My guess is that you are from Munster somewhere. In that province, more than any other, I do believe there is the biggest misunderstanding of Unionists and their position. I don't know why this is so, perhaps the rebel county of Cork, perhaps simply because it's geographically the furthest from the North.

      I am not trying to dismiss what you are saying but I am suggesting that these issues are not as important to the general Irish sporting population at large as you make out hence my comments about mischief making.

      PS - still waiting to hear how & when the Irish rugby team was going to split up!! This will never happen! And best wishes to our cricket team who gave the English a good going over too!

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      Brian 6 years ago

      Interesting article, but I'd like to point out to you that Barry McGuigan is not from NI. He is from Clones, Co. Monaghan and although he has strong connections to the North and was really warmly recieved there, he is from the Republic.

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      premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland

      Barry - Your first point: Yes it is really the choice for the athlete who they wish to represent and rightly so, I think we'd agree there. However, as you said "if Ireland could enter the Olympics as an all Ireland team then he would probably opt for it" and the fact is he can enter an all-Ireland team, okay it is under the tricolour but he seemed happy enough to play under the tricolour at the Golf World Cup last year so he is having his cake and eating it too. He plays for Ireland when there is no choice available, and he plays for GB when he has an option of the two.

      Your second point - fair enough, the rugby team is different. However, I don't see too many of the official rugby flags flying in the crowd at the games I have to say. As for Ireland's Call, it is a mickey mouse song. It was composed to end tension and relieve sensitivities on those matters. A line from the song goes "We have come to answer our country's call" when really it should read "...our countries' calls" because there is no way that southern nationalists and northern unionists consider themselves from the same country. It just a daft song to stir the emotions of men at a large gathering when intellectual reasoning is far from the priority.

      Rory will be welcomed in Killarney because he's a great golfer and a nice guy. There will be plenty of Northern Irish making the trip and plenty of deluded Republicans who don't even know the truth because it's so sensitive it's not really being talked about in the national media. Did you see the guy who threw the tricolour at Rory the other day - that's how delusional people down here are about him. They'd claim anyone (just look at Obama's 'homecoming'). But when McIlroy plays for GB in the Olympics he won't be able to hide his allegiance any more and perhaps the people down here will realise he's British and Northern Irish.

      And for your last point - you've quoted me out of context. If you read the entire post I made then I make myself perfectly clear that this is a general view from the south and it was not necessarily my opinion. I referred to the influences on our childhood and education in these matters and that is why such feelings exist. I may have been swaying towards that opinion but I have changed my views quite a bit since then.