Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"O’Neill gives his backing for united Ireland team"

I’d like to apologise to any regular readers who may have been distressed to read the above headline in the Irish Examiner.

The O’Neill in question was, you’ll not be surprised to read, not myself but one of my footballing heroes, Martin.

Of course, when you read what he actually said , you see that the headline, which has had Irish nationalists squeeling with the delight, has a bit more hard reality lurking behind it. I respect Martin O’Neill as a person and his opinion much more than the two other main NI stars from the past who’ve argued for a “United” Ireland team; I never put any import whatsoever on the ramblings of an alcoholic wife-beater (Best) or an UKIP self-publicist (Dougan).

But yes, if O’Neill or Pat Jennings says something ,then I’ll listen.
A couple more pertinent thoughts from Martin:
Thirty five years on, O’Neill isn’t convinced that an All-Ireland team is necessarily imminent, despite the extraordinary political changes on the island in recent years. But it’s a development he would dearly love to see.

The political climate has changed a great deal since then and you might think that in this particular climate it is a possibility,” he mused. “But I really don’t know. I don’t know even at this stage if everyone would want it to happen.

I also don’t know, but I wouldn’t certainly rule out letting the splittist FAI rejoin the IFA they left in a huff in the 1920s and indeed, as rugby has shown, an all-Ireland team can work, but only if everyone is prepared to compromise.

So, I’d certainly support an Ireland team playing the vast majority of its home games in Belfast (with Dublin getting the very odd, meaningless friendly on the condition that it’s accepted it will be an away match for Ireland and thus no emblem of the ROI being flown or the ROI’s anthem played). Such a team would generally play under the Union Jack and a “compromise” flag, let’s say the Cross of St Patrick, standing to attention to GSTQ and some second compromise anthem that "we can all share", let’s say “Danny Boy/Londonderry Air”. Obviously with her busy timetable, it will be difficult for our head of state to get over for every game to shake hands with the team, but why not Big Ian or Robbo then as a substitute?

It works for rugby, can’t see why it can’t also work for football and I’m sure it will if all Irish people of goodwill want it to.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course MO'N gives his backing. He is a fenian born and bred. The only surprise with this sly character is that he actually played for NI. A united Ireland footy team would go the same way as the rugby boys, and yet another piece of Ulster's freedom would be gone.

O'Neill said...

What's his religion got to do with anything? The two oul E.Belfast gits Dougan and Best came out with the same proposal-were they fenian born and bred as well?

Unlike Best, O'neill played his heart out for NI and unlike Best, he is actually a decent human being into the bargain. So, he's earned the right to be, at least, listened to with respect- but he's wrong on this one.

We've seen with the case in rugby what the reality of an "all-Ireland" team entails in terms of emblems and anthems- as for playing-wise...can't say it's made "us" into world-beaters.

Fakey said...

it'd be a funny post if it wasn't so snarky.

Get over it.

O'Neill said...

it'd be a funny post if it wasn't so snarky.

Get over it.


Don't overestimate the importance of your country's rugby team in the overall scheme of things- it's useful for knocking out sarky metaphors, that's about it....

Fakey said...

o'neill... your post was 'funny', and as I've noted before you do have a point. It's just this neo-colonial nonsense is getting a tad OTT and the whataboutry levels have now reached 'snarky'.

You're a unionist, you don't feel the Ireland rugby team represents you and yours (despite the compromises) and you think the FAI is a 'splitter' organisation yadda yadda yadda...

seriously, unless you've something practical to suggest I suggest you continue your rather excellent commentary regarding the unraveling of the UK.

O'Neill said...

It's just this neo-colonial nonsense is getting a tad OTT and the whataboutry levels have now reached 'snarky

I think you need to tighten up your definition of "neo-colonial", making (admitedly sarky) observations about the FAI and IRFU is a bit different from advocating the re-establishment of the British Empire.

seriously, unless you've something practical to suggest I suggest you continue your rather excellent commentary regarding the unraveling of the UK.

Thanks (I think); although that "unraveling" is a bit premature- "ongoing constitutional debate" would be more accurate.

Fakey said...

one man's unraveling... etc.

You're actually right Neo-colonial is incorrect, should read Crypto-Unionism. ;)

Point is, a unified Island wide team in Soccer would be a pointless exercise. Firstly, Soccer fans from both Ireland and Northern Ireland are pretty entrenched with their own symbols and mythos. Expecting soccer fans from say, Cork to support a team playing in Belfast is as mad as asking Linfield lads to trek into 'Mexico' and support a team that plays in Dublin.

Soccer is different to Rugby. But then again, I agree with your analysis that the Ireland Rugby team is symbolically defined by the vast majority of it's supporters - but what can anyone do about that, ban lad's from Garryowen using the Tricolour in Croke Park...

The IRFU in my opinion have attempted a ham fisted compromise that keeps the vast majority of fans happy while I agree playing token lip service to Unionists. But tokens are important, whether we like this or not it's a fait acompli based largely on market demographics and national confidence rather than political correctness and post colonial deference.