Irish Cup Final anthem farce shows DUP still doesn’t get it

The DUP (incorporating the Ulster Unionists) continues to stir up trouble where there was none otherwise to be had. The latest example was its weasel words about the lack of an anthem being played – something which is not new, by the way – at this weekend’s Irish Cup Final.

To be clear, this latest attempt at raising tensions followed on from the DUP raising tensions over parades, then over flags, and then over a football match involving one of the teams which was in the Final. It also just happened to coincide with the First Minister coming under pressure over his failure on a Shared Future stategy, the Health Minister coming under pressure over his U-turn on care homes, and the Social Development Minister coming under pressure over the delay in Welfare Reform. Just happened to coincide, mind…

More than this, it is further evidence that the DUP, just like Sinn Fein, is continuing to sell the people it represents a lie. In 1998, most of us signed up to an Agreement whereby the people of Northern Ireland may opt, by nationality, to be British or Irish. In other words, unlike anywhere else under UK sovereignty, its citizens may opt not to be British and still be good citizens loyal to Northern Ireland – in other words the administration has a single sovereignty, but its people have dual nationality. Whatever its representatives like to claim, the DUP signed up to the precise same deal on citizenship, with no modifications whatsoever even attempted, in 2007. Any DUP representative and any of the people he or she represents has to deal with the straightfoward fact that many of their fellow citizens are not British, while still perfectly good citizens of Northern Ireland.

This brings us to the Northern Ireland football team. The role of an international football team is nothing to do with sovereignty (otherwise there would be no separate England/Scotland/Wales teams, or Palestine or Montserrat or whatever), and everything to do with nationality – hence qualification for a team is determined by nationality/citizenship, with understandable caveats to stop players essentially being bought to compete for a certain association (the way athletes are). Long before 1998 it was clear that a player with either British or Irish nationality may play for Northern Ireland, provided that player qualified by birth, ancestry or residence link. The whole point here is that FIFA made a mistake when it allowed people with Irish citizenship to opt to play for the Republic of Ireland on no grounds other than citizenship – in 1998 (and 2007) we signed up to a deal which makes it absolutely clear that Irish citizenship may come by virtue of a link to Northern Ireland just as much as it does by a link to the Republic of Ireland. If someone is from Northern Ireland, they may be British or Irish (there is no guarantee which); likewise, if someone has Irish citizenship they may be from the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland (there is no guarantee which). Whatever the sovereignty of Northern Ireland, it is clear that to tie Irish citizenship directly to the territory of the Republic of Ireland is wrong under the terms of the 1998 Agreement; as is tying British citizenship alone to Northern Ireland.

The long and the short of it is this: affiliation to the football association of a particular territory is about nationality not sovereignty. Thus the IFA may select players of either British or Irish nationality because those are both nationalities of Northern Ireland. And thus, my friends, there is no reason to assign the anthem of only one of those nationalities to the IFA. Most of all, there is no reason to stir up tensions where none exists – and every reason to provide leadership and explain to people the country they are living in and who their fellow citizens (the ones who play for the same international team) really are.

Of course, they don’t actually play “God Save the Queen” before the Scottish Cup Final either – and indeed when Cardiff City reached the FA Cup Final the (English) FA agreed to play the Welsh anthem despite the fact it does not represent Wales. But, as ever, the DUP was obviously too busy being British to notice…

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4 thoughts on “Irish Cup Final anthem farce shows DUP still doesn’t get it

  1. Cedric says:

    Dear Ian Parsley,

    On a related theme, please could you fix it for me to rip the living heck out of this DUPer, in the way only you can, for her inate ridiculousness, and her representation of the true spirit of the DUP at its most naked, small-minded, reckless, hectoring, hypocritical and opportunistic.

    Yours,

    Cedric

    • Remember, at the same event, UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt was specific about his desire to campaign *alongside* Ruth Patterson at the 2015 General Election.

      Note also that for all the ranting about Sinn Fein and its IRA chums, the Leader of the UVF-linked PUP was also in attendance. As was the anti-Agreement Leader Jim Allister. These are the type of people Mike Nesbitt’s UUP wishes to be associated with. Otherwise, what was he doing there and why was he talking about further Joint Candidates after the Mid-Ulster deal?

  2. harryaswell says:

    As per usual, IJP, you indulge yourself in ad-hominem, sneering and smearing. Alliance has shown itself NOT to be in support of the Union, and as such cannot be relied upon. Instead, they promote the illusion of non-sectarianism and their so called “logic”! Meanwhile, here you go, inaccurate to the last. The DUP and the UUP are NOT joined at the hip as you suggest. Like all parties in favour of the Union, they will, of course, support each other in crises and also communicate and co-operate with each other. Why ever not? They are at least patriotic, they are British and they support the Union. It seems a great pity that Alliance, instead of trying to be super PC, does not support the Union, does not support the proper Anthem being sung, and does not support the promotion of the UK, or Great Britain throughout the world with a view to increasing trade and financial deals. By all means, let Wales, Scotland, and N. Ireland play their own anthem at footy matches, after all, who cares? Except, of course, when it comes to playing the Republic of Ireland which does have it’s own Anthem, rightly so, being a foreign country in it’s own right. WE, here, should be promoting Britain every step of the way, since like it or not, Northern Ireland IS British and part of the UK. Until a majority votes otherwise it will remain so. Everyone should respect that.

    • Don’t remember mentioning Alliance.

      “Ad hominem” means “towards the man” (and not based on the position taken by that man) – but this article is about the position adopted by an entire party and is based entirely on the position it takes.

      By the way, Edwin Poots had no time to meet Trust Executives about old people being forced out of their homes, but was able to meet the IFA in a failed attempt to get an anthem played. That’s not “ad hominem” either, just a fact to which the electorate should give some thought.

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