Saturday, December 15, 2007

If Ciaran Barnes is a journalist.......

....then I'm Alex Salmond's PR agent.

Is Ciaran Barnes the worst journalist in the United Kingdom?
Fair bit of competition, but quite possibly.

SOCCER fans throughout West Belfast were singing for joy this week after unionists failed in an attempt at Stormont to stop players from the North representing the Republic of Ireland.

Ciaran, Ciaran, Ciaran, stop listening to those blokes cursin’ the Hun down the pub...here’s the word:

Stormont is a Mickey Mouse parliament, full of Mickey Mouse politicians, making Mickey Mouse statements, only FIFA can determine who plays for whom in world soccer.

Lagan Valley Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler led the opposition to the “narrow-minded motion”.

Welcoming its defeat, he said: “For unionists to seek to prevent Irishmen from being eligible to represent Ireland represents a narrow-minded attitude that must not be allowed to prevail.”


FIFA recognises two national teams with the word "Ireland" in their title.
FIFA does not have any record on its books of any team solely of the name "Ireland".

Mr Butler also thanked the Irish government and SDLP for supporting his campaign against the motion.

"His" "campaign"?

However, the minister’s words cut little ice with the West Belfast Ireland Supporters’ Club.
“We have no problem with players who are eligible to play for Ireland playing for the North if that is their wish.
"The simple answer to all of this is to have an all-Ireland team as we do in rugby."


You might want to have a word with the IRFU about that last statement; according to the IRFU, a Belfast game for the "all-Ireland" rugby team is an away fixture, some of their supporters may not be quite, you know...not quite "Irish" enough...
Same principles apply to the FAI when they decide which players to target in Northern Ireland, some players may be, you know...,more "Irish" than others?

FIFA officials will meet in Tokyo on Saturday to make a final decision on the player eligibility row.

And I might be interpreting this wrong, but I think they’re saying it’s A-OK for the division of international soccer in Ireland along sectarian lines.

Update 1:
FIFA bottle it.

Update 2:
Our Culture Supremo proves once again he's an incompetent fool:

"If this is now the official position of FIFA, players eligible under FIFA rules to play for the Northern Ireland international team will not be eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland.
"This was the right decision and I am pleased that representations to FIFA both from the IFA and me have borne fruit. This is in the best interest of football in Northern Ireland."

Update 3:
Belfast Media Group spread more lies:
"But the IFA only have themselves to blame. They insist that anyone representing Northern Ireland must have a British passport and then endure God Save The Queen before every match"

7 comments:

kensei said...

"FIFA recognises two national teams with the word "Ireland" in their title.
FIFA does not have any record on its books of any team solely of the name "Ireland"."

One of those does however, represent a state with the official title "Ireland".

"You might want to have a word with the IRFU about that last statement; according to the IRFU, a Belfast game for the "all-Ireland" rugby team is an away fixture, some of their supporters may not be quite, you know...not quite "Irish" enough...

I am sure they would be delighted to play the Soldiers Song for you.

Personally, I think they should come to some arrangement that keeps you happy, but it is an All Ireland team.

"Same principles apply to the FAI when they decide which players to target in Northern Ireland, some players may be, you know...,more "Irish" than others?"

I thought typically most players sought them out. But, fer example, Alex Bruce qualified through a Bangor grandparent. I don't think religion comes into it. I think it is purely down to likelihood to come. Again, I hope they just approach everyone in future, but also irrelevant.

I hope you are right regarding eligibility. But then, no matter what happens I not going to start supporting NI, and you are stuck with the IFA. So not a total loss either way.

O'Neill said...

I have no doubt that the FAI have won this one, FIFA have said the pre-October 2007 status quo remains and as I posted on Slugger they confirmed in the October proposal that the Republic could pick players born in NI.

There were a couple of wider points I wanted to make on Slugge,r but seeing it’s gone the usual way of football threads on there (some of the contributions on there make Barnes article look like a piece of intellectual brilliance) I might has well put them up here.

1. FIFA was put under pressure by a collection of Irish nationalist politicians which ranged right across the spectrum and included the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the various parties in the Republic. It’s obvious that this Irish National(ist) Front can be depended upon by nationalists in Northern Ireland to "defend" their narrow "communal" interests within Ulster, regardless of the damage caused to wider relations within Northern Irish society. Unionists should be aware and take careful note of this fact.

2. Watching even Danny O’Connor (a nationalist politician I would previously have had respect for) descend to the level of sectarian stereotyping and even racist epithets on that Slugger “debate” reminded me of something Poots said in the Stormont debate:
"It seeks to undermine the good work that is being done by the Irish Football Association in developing a cross-community football team and seek to sectarianise the Northern Ireland football team which drives against the shared future agenda which I thought the same people had signed up to.

"Clearly they are not as committed to the shared future as what they have verbally said they are.".
Probably the only sensible thing said by Poots this year.
This is the final confirmation, if it were needed, that the mythical concept of “shared future” upon which the whole Stormont House of cards is built is, to put it mildly, complete bollocks.
If even Northern Ireland’s football team can’t be shared by those living in Northern Ireland then there is zero chance of a “shared future” in more important areas.
Doesn’t bode well for the Executive’s future then really....oh well, for every cloud...

3.Through most of my football-spectating career, I, and most of the people I know who follow Northern Ireland, regarded the fortunes of the Republic’s team with the utmost apathy. The aggressive actions the FAI, coupled with an unbelievable and increasing amount of bitterness shown towards our team and supporters by a section of the Northern-based Republic fans, has changed all that. I suspect most of the latter group wouldn’t want a Hun anywhere near their team or support anyway, but they needn’t worry it ain’t going to happen anytime soon.
Whatever, expect an upsurge of support from Ulster for Italy, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia and Montenegro in the forthcoming World Cup campaign.

4. On a more positive level, simply because Sinn Fein or the Republic’s politicians decree that people from a non-unionist background should look upon the Republic as "their" team, it doesn’t mean that the players (or indeed supporters) involved will take heed. Both Michael O’Connor and Tony Kane have returned to the fold and at all age levels of the Northern Ireland international teams, both sections of our community are represented. What it does mean though is that the youth set-up must become much more tighter, it’s rumoured that players have been lost to the Republic in the past, not because of political or sectarian reasons, but because they have been dissatisfied with the professionalism of the training etc on offer. With a hostile, enemy association on our doorstep ready to take advantage of such situations, we can no longer afford to lose any more players this way.

5. Quote from Jock Stein, the first British manager to win the European Cup:
"Jock, if there were two players, one Catholic and one Protestant. Who would you sign?"
"The Protestant"
"Why?"
"Because I know that Rangers would never sign the Catholic"

I always thought that this comment from Stein was actually a bit sectarian in itself, I can now see a lot better where he was coming from. We have been thrown into a sectarian selection dogfight not of our own choosing, but now that we are in it, we need to fight for every player and supporter, respective of background that might want to play for or support us.
We are still awaiting (and may be for a long-time) for the Republic to have their "Maurice Johnston" moment-as said before, they are targetting only one section of the community in Northern Ireland. Strangely enough, in the long-run and for the long-term good of the Northern Ireland international team, this may well work to our advantage (and not only from the point of view being able to claim thre moral high ground of being the only team in Ireland to operate on a cross-community basis).
It’s crucial that despite this setback, Football for All campaign should continue, it is more important now than ever before. That’s inevitably going to mean that things like the anthem are going to have to be looked at. Northern Ireland is British, but when we watch Northern Ireland play, we are not supporting the UK; we need more specific Northern Irish not British emblems and songs.

Finally, as the famous Dynamo Dresden supporter Nietzsche once said:
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

This crisis, the Maze fiasco, the continual attacks against us in the media and blogosphere, not to mention the continual battling and winning against the odds by the actual team have, from what I can see anyway, certainly pulled together the supporters into a highly cohesive and united group and we are leaving the year 2007 in a much stronger state than we entered. Despite all that's been thrown at us, We still exist

kensei said...

Briefly, as I've just lost most of what I've written

1. Nationalists see the world fundamentally differently. This does not equate to "narrow communal interests" Second, all politicians are will support things their electorate like. We like this, and you need to face up to that. Third, Unionism is just as guilty by this measure. You might see it as natural and the best thing ever, but we don't.

2. This was always bound to get intemperate, because people get worked up over football and daydream of them or their sons playing for their team. It strikes close to the core of people and that is always a dangerous game.

We have a Shared Future. We all live here. But no one decided to change their identity and politics because of the GFA. And what we see as "Shared" may be different. But even assuming everyone was signed up to some Unionist version of this, you think everyone would have liked and accepted this right now? Madness.

3. Most of my footballing career, I have despised NI because of the behaviour of their fans. And you can cite small numbers etc, but it was always there and in your face. "Trick or treat". Many more I know still do. I moved to happy apathy considering the campaign, but damn right I'm right back up to despise. How dare they try to tell me who am I and who my country is.

4. Players will tend to do what is best for their career. For some it really matters, and it's for them this should be left open.

We are all for "Huns" playing for us, in fact I think we'd love it more than just about anything else.

O'Neill said...

"Third, Unionism is just as guilty by this measure."

The Unionist reps have been fighting for the team to retain its cross-community nature. In this case if they were more interested in "narrow communal" values then they (and us) would have settled for a Protestant team for a Protestant people option being offered to us.

"2. This was always bound to get intemperate, because people get worked up over football and daydream of them or their sons playing for their team. "

I inhabit several football boards, "intemperate" I can handle, it's the lies and on occasions, downright sectarian and racist bigotry which piss me off. Mick Fealty is held in very high regard by the vast majority of us but he really needs to tighten up or forget about football threads. There are at least three potential libels on the present threads.

"We have a Shared Future. We all live here."

"No" to the first, "yes" to the second. We have a segregated parliament, segregation in housing, education, culture and sport. I see no indication whatsoever of that situation changing. What we should be looking for now is the complete neutralisation of the "shared" public spaces to at least ensure that we can survive together.

"I have despised NI because of the behaviour of their fans. And you can cite small numbers etc, but it was always there and in your face."

Bigotry isn't one way in NI, try wearing a NI shirt in the much of the city and see how long you last. Apart from that regarding the team, I regard ROI now as Germany to our Holland, England to our Scotland. Wasn1t always that way.

"We are all for "Huns" playing for us, in fact I think we'd love it more than just about anything else."

I don't doubt your own personal desire there, I'd definitely doubt whether it's shared by every ROI supporter however, certainly not in NI.
Many seem to be happy enough to see the complete segregation of the teams staying in place.

kensei said...

"The Unionist reps have been fighting for the team to retain its cross-community nature. In this case if they were more interested in "narrow communal" values then they (and us) would have settled for a Protestant team for a Protestant people option being offered to us."

Different world views. Placing everything in an NI (or UK) context suits the Unionist World view. It doesn't connect with nationalists because, well, if you are worried about division, why won't you have an All Ireland team.

Moreover, this doesn't automatically mean you'll have no Catholic players. If it does, it's entirely your own fault.

"I inhabit several football boards, "intemperate" I can handle, it's the lies and on occasions, downright sectarian and racist bigotry which piss me off."

What pisses me off is people being accused of sectarian behaviour because they support the Republic and not NI. What pisses me of is the denial and downplaying of what went before, the occasional flat out denial. And there is plenty that comes the other way.

"Mick Fealty is held in very high regard by the vast majority of us but he really needs to tighten up or forget about football threads. There are at least three potential libels on the present threads."

Where?

""No" to the first, "yes" to the second. We have a segregated parliament, segregation in housing, education, culture and sport. I see no indication whatsoever of that situation changing. What we should be looking for now is the complete neutralisation of the "shared" public spaces to at least ensure that we can survive together."

No, we should be getting to the point where us being different is no biggie. If you want to have as Union jack outside your house, grand. I might want a Tricolour outside mine. Neutralising identity is a success for no one, and will only breed resentment. I ma an Irish Republican and proud of it. I've never apologised for it and don't intend to start.

"Bigotry isn't one way in NI, try wearing a NI shirt in the much of the city and see how long you last. Apart from that regarding the team, I regard ROI now as Germany to our Holland, England to our Scotland. Wasn1t always that way."

You see, I don't regard you as a rival. I just liked seeing you get beat to punish the bigots. Then i didn't care because you'd cleaned up a fair bit. Now I just like to see you get beat to punish all you, seeing as how nearly every NI fan asked for comment has supported the removal of Natioanlists right to play under the Tricolour.

"I don't doubt your own personal desire there, I'd definitely doubt whether it's shared by every ROI supporter however, certainly not in NI."

No, I think you'll find there would be nothing that would make the support happier for a variety of reasons. For many it would be a little inch closer to an All Ireland team. For some it would be because it would be a little reflection a possible United Ireland. And for some it would be great to shut the NI fans up about "cross community" bollocks.

O'Neill said...

”Different world views. Placing everything in an NI (or UK) context suits the Unionist World view. It doesn't connect with nationalists because, well, if you are worried about division, why won't you have an All Ireland team.”

Circular argument, a British Isles team a la the British and Irish Lions makes as much sense as an all-Ireland one. The fcat remains the Unionist have been figting for the continuance of a cross-community team, not something that will go down that well with the likes of Billy Hutchinson and the uber-prods who left in a huff post 2002.

”Moreover, this doesn't automatically mean you'll have no Catholic players. If it does, it's entirely your own fault.”

No, it doesn’t and as I said in my original comment, perversely enough in the long term this may have been the best thing which could have happened to us

”"I inhabit several football boards, "intemperate" I can handle, it's the lies and on occasions, downright sectarian and racist bigotry which piss me off."

What pisses me off is people being accused of sectarian behaviour because they support the Republic and not NI. What pisses me of is the denial and downplaying of what went before, the occasional flat out denial. And there is plenty that comes the other way.”

Your knee jerked into action there before your brain connected, I didn’t specify where the sectarian and racist bigotry was coming from.
I believe the FAI are operating (albeit indirectly) a sectarian selection policy in terms of players they are targeting from Northern Ireland. I also believe that an element of the ROI’s support (mainly but not exclusively from NI) displays both sectarian behaviour and attitudes. I also believe that most of that latter group are pleased at the prospect of a sectarian split in the island’s teams. That’s my opinion, at no stage have I suggested that being a supporter of the ROI de fcato makes one sectarian. That kind of accusation flows almost exclusively the other way.

”"Mick Fealty is held in very high regard by the vast majority of us but he really needs to tighten up or forget about football threads. There are at least three potential libels on the present threads."

Where?”

In the last year the following libels have been made:

1. The Laganside and S Belfast NISC are somehow connected with loyalist terrorism/the orange orders
2. Chris Turner (under 21player arrested by police when he retailiated against a sectarian remark made against him)was accused, tried and jailed by the Slugger lynch mob before his case even made court
3. The “facts” behind case lost by the NOTW re the doctored anti-Lennon banner has been repeated again
The first “allegations” were removed by Mick, afaik the other two still can be accessed.

That’s not even going into the “I was walking along the Lisburn Road, minding my own business, when a 1000 strong billy-boy chanting, sash-wearing group of NI supporters jumped on me for being a fenian” shite which seems to be lapped up and believed by the kind of people who believe that “their side” never so much has ran through a red-light during the whole time of the Troubles.

”No, we should be getting to the point where us being different is no biggie.”
You don’t get it, that’s the perfect situation, I’m telling you the “shared future” isn’t going to happen.

Through the Missus’ work we watched a film last night about an experimental school in Israel where Jews and israeli Arabs attend together. It’s a breakthrough but what’s interesting in the school is that the teaching environment is completely neutral, no mention of religious holidays, contentious history etc. It’s a shared space, it stays neutral and all the kids and parents are happy with that…they then go home to their own ghettoes and realise their separate national identities in peace and quiet without offending anybody or causing any problem. Be realistic, that’s the best we can aim for (assuming that we ever get a fully integrated education).
I’ll make two predictions for you:
1. Not one truly cross-community decision (ie people voting outside the sectarian boundaries) will be made in the Assembly before it finally collapses
2. Not one peace wall will be dismantled in Belfast in the next 5 years, if anything there’s the stronger chance that more will be built.
That’s the reality, there is no “shared future”

“If you want to have as Union jack outside your house, grand. I might want a Tricolour outside mine. “

And if we live somewhere which is less than a 80-20% of our “own sort”, then we’ll both stand a pretty good chance of getting a brick through the window- that again is the reality of the society we live in- “shared future”? I don’t think so.

““You see, I don't regard you as a rival. I just liked seeing you get beat to punish the bigots. Then i didn't care because you'd cleaned up a fair bit. Now I just like to see you get beat to punish all you, seeing as how nearly every NI fan asked for comment has supported the removal of Natioanlists right to play under the Tricolour.””

Again you miss the core point. Bigotry does not flow one way in NI. A NI shirt guarantees you a kicking in large swathes of NI, including, until relatively recently, even in places like the QUB SU. That fact doesn’t even register with you, the fact that buses and cars carrying NI supporters are regularly stoned in the Markets and the West Link, the fact that ROI supporters attacked protestant school-kids in Strabane during the last WC just isn’t acknowledged. I hate the “holier than thou hypocrisy”, I hate the FAI’s sectarian selection policy, for those reasons alone I seriously hope you get absolutely slaughtered in the next WC qualifying.


”No, I think you'll find there would be nothing that would make the support happier for a variety of reasons. For many it would be a little inch closer to an All Ireland team. For some it would be because it would be a little reflection a possible United Ireland.”

Don’t attempt to speak for the entire Northern Irish based support of the ROI. There is section of them do not want a hun anywhere near their team and if you deny that fact the best I can accuse you of is naivety.

“And for some it would be great to shut the NI fans up about "cross community" bollocks.”
Our team contains player both sections of the community in Northern Ireland, yours doesn’t. Sorry that’s the truth, not bollocks.

kensei said...

"Circular argument, a British Isles team a la the British and Irish Lions makes as much sense as an all-Ireland one."

Again, something only a Unionist could possibly come out with. It makes no sense in the Nationalist world view except on rare occasions, like with the British and Irish Lions. And they aren't really that big a draw in comparison with the Irish team.

Why would I want an All British and Irish Isles team? I'm Irish, not British.

"The fcat remains the Unionist have been figting for the continuance of a cross-community team, not something that will go down that well with the likes of Billy Hutchinson and the uber-prods who left in a huff post 2002."

No, on a party political level at any rate they are doing what they think tallies best with their political world view and will sit well with their electorate.

I don't really have a problem with that. But a lot of Nationalists don't really want to solve one division by creating another bigger one. And the Tricolour, the Soldier's Song and the like are a much bigger emotional draw. Telling people off for that will really get you nowhere.

"this may have been the best thing which could have happened to us"

Well, that and evidence of orgies.

"Your knee jerked into action there before your brain connected, I didn’t specify where the sectarian and racist bigotry was coming from."

Fair enough.

"I believe the FAI are operating (albeit indirectly) a sectarian selection policy in terms of players they are targeting from Northern Ireland."

The solution to that is to target everyone. But let's be brutally honest: this is a difficult area and it could be very easy to give offense. So I can't blame them for who they "target". But it should also be borne in mind that any player can approach the FAI if they desire. That has certainly happened on the Nationalist side. I don't believe it has on the Unionist side, unless you count Alan Kernaghan, which had complicating factors.

And let's be brutally honester. You don't care that the FAI is getting Nationalists. You really care they are getting anyone form the six counties fulls top.

"I also believe that an element of the ROI’s support (mainly but not exclusively from NI) displays both sectarian behaviour and attitudes. "

I have no doubt some do. What can be said is that there is nowhere near the history of that being presented in public as with NI.

"I also believe that most of that latter group are pleased at the prospect of a sectarian split in the island’s teams. That’s my opinion, at no stage have I suggested that being a supporter of the ROI de fcato makes one sectarian. That kind of accusation flows almost exclusively the other way."

What you fauil to realise is that in terms of support, you have a "sectarian split". It hasn't been affected by mixed teams in the past and it's very unlikely to be done by that route in the future.

And by the by, the implication that this is some form of deviant behaviour is always there. "Support your country" and all that craic.

"The first “allegations” were removed by Mick, afaik the other two still can be accessed."

I'll take your word for it, I don't have detailed knowledge of it.

"That’s not even going into the “I was walking along the Lisburn Road, minding my own business, when a 1000 strong billy-boy chanting, sash-wearing group of NI supporters jumped on me for being a fenian” shite which seems to be lapped up and believed by the kind of people who believe that “their side” never so much has ran through a red-light during the whole time of the Troubles."

I have lived on the Lisburn Road when NI was playing. Nothing ever happened, but I always found it intimidating. Probably my fault, but there you go.

And are you saying that a slightly more plausible scenario along those lines could never happen and has never happened?

"You don’t get it, that’s the perfect situation, I’m telling you the “shared future” isn’t going to happen."

I'm telling you'll never get there by the methods you are suggesting.

"Be realistic, that’s the best we can aim for (assuming that we ever get a fully integrated education)."

Nope, and I don't believe universal integrated education is a good thing. For a start, Catholic a schools post better results.

That's just by the by. I more want to see a pluralist approach than one size fits all. Happy for their to be some Catholic schooling, I got an excellent education out of one. Happy to see integrated schools, traditional types and perhaps mixed pupils in schools run by one or other of the churches. Happy to see Irish schools, Prod schools, technical academies. I believe the diversity we have is a strength and not a weakness.

"I’ll make two predictions for you:
1. Not one truly cross-community decision (ie people voting outside the sectarian boundaries) will be made in the Assembly before it finally collapses
2. Not one peace wall will be dismantled in Belfast in the next 5 years, if anything there’s the stronger chance that more will be built.
That’s the reality, there is no “shared future”"

I wouldn't be so sure that either the Assembly will collapse, or all the peace walls will stay up. A lot of surprising things have happened.

Reckon it'll take time, though.

"And if we live somewhere which is less than a 80-20% of our “own sort”, then we’ll both stand a pretty good chance of getting a brick through the window- that again is the reality of the society we live in- “shared future”? I don’t think so."

You miss the point. That's where we are, not where we want to go.

"Again you miss the core point. Bigotry does not flow one way in NI. A NI shirt guarantees you a kicking in large swathes of NI, including, until relatively recently, even in places like the QUB SU. That fact doesn’t even register with you, the fact that buses and cars carrying NI supporters are regularly stoned in the Markets and the West Link, the fact that ROI supporters attacked protestant school-kids in Strabane during the last WC just isn’t acknowledged. I hate the “holier than thou hypocrisy”, I hate the FAI’s sectarian selection policy, for those reasons alone I seriously hope you get absolutely slaughtered in the next WC qualifying."

I recognise that sectarianism does not run one way. I think there is a lot in NI's and the Old Firm's anti-sectarianism things the Republic could learn from. But there is simply no evidence that the Republic fans are as bad as NI ones. It's lazy analysis and would be dishonest for me to say I believed it. No Republic fan ever chanted anything as sick as "Trick or Treat" at a match. I was eleven when that match happened, but that one always stuck with me. At no point ever was Lansdowne Road anything like Windsor Park at its height.

Fair play for cleaning things up. I welcome it and had moved to happy apathy. Until you decided to have a pop at the underlying principles of the GFA to try and use your Irishness to block mine. You miss the point. That isn't really sectarian in the traditional and normal sense. But it is pig headed, stupid and guaranteed to get my back up. Congrats, you've did it. For that alone I hope you return to normal service.

"Don’t attempt to speak for the entire Northern Irish based support of the ROI. There is section of them do not want a hun anywhere near their team and if you deny that fact the best I can accuse you of is naivety."

I don't claim to speak for all of them. I am merely stating my opinion that the number of them that would hold that attitude is very, very few. Think we wouldn't have liked Best?

"Our team contains player both sections of the community in Northern Ireland, yours doesn’t. Sorry that’s the truth, not bollocks."

We don't care. Nothing we're doing is keeping Prods out. We'd like you in but the best we can do is accept your wishes. Are we meant to coerce you?