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Rory McIlroy

We have heard much about sectarianism in sport recently. As the antithesis of that, it’s great to read of Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy’s victory in the US masters being welcomed by all sections of the community there.

NI First Minister Peter Robinson said McIlroy’s triumph was “one of Northern Ireland’s greatest sporting moments”.

“Over the past four days Rory played perhaps some of the best golf we have ever witnessed,” he said.

“To have led from the first day of the tournament to the last shows a maturity and composure far beyond his years.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the manner of the Holywood golfer’s success was “nothing short of incredible”, following his disappointment at the Masters in Augusta in April.

“The manner in which he has conducted himself this weekend, showing tremendous resilience and character following the disappointment of this loss at Augusta, is a tremendous example to us all,” he added.

“This win follows on from Graeme McDowell’s great win last year and I am very pleased to be able to say that our local golfers are among the very best in the world and I have no doubt that both Rory and Graeme will go on to win further Majors.”

There have been several Northern Irish and Irish sportsmen over many years who have commanded support and respect from all sections of the community. George Best, Barry McGuigan and Alex Higgins spring to mind. If young McIlroy can do the same thing whilst at the same time emerge as one of the best golfers there’s ever been, then more power to him.

What aboot ye Rory?

Farewell to Paisley

I caught an interview on BBC radio at the weekend in which John Humphreys interviewed Rev Ian Paisley on the occasion of his retiral as a Westminster MP after 40 years. It can be heard here.

Ian Paisley (left) and Martin McGuinness

The Chuckle Brothers

One of the most amazing things in the interview is that Paisley claims to have prayed with his deputy Martin McGuinness in 2008 for the latter’s sick mother. Jeeez! they pray to the SAME God? It kind of makes you wonder what all the trouble in Northern Ireland over the last three hundred years or so has been about.

Strange Things Happen

Alastair draws my attention to this one. Growing up in the 60′s and 70′s there were many certainties and immovable traditions in life which have gradually been eroded away. We live in a spectacularly different world now, much of it for the worse but some of it undeniably for the better. In two particular parts of the UK, namely Northern Ireland and Scotland, religion, politics (and heaven help us) sport have always been closely connected during my life. The whole thing stems from three things. 1) Mass emigration from (mainly protestant) Scotland to (then mainly catholic) Ulster in the 17th and 18th centuries and 2) Mass emigration (mainly by manual labourers) from ( mainly catholic) Ireland to (mainly protestant) Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries. 3) The province of (by then mainly protestant) Ulster remaining part of the UK when the rest of Ireland gained independence in the 1920′s.

The rancour, murder, crime and downright hatred which arose from these events has been a blight on life for generations in Scotland but in particular in Northern Ireland. Bombings and terrorist assassination were commonplace in England in the 70′s and 80′s as the Provisional IRA conducted their form of negotiation. However gradually an uneasy peace has developed in Ulster and the unthinkable coalition between Ian Paisley’s DUP and Martin McGuinness’ Sinn Feinn now governs the province.

Yesterday in the Guardian, on the news that Ian Paisley was to step down from his position as first minister at the next election, Gerry Adams (Sinn Feinn president) paid tribute to him by saying he (Paisley) was a “fascinating and gracious man”.

Whatever next?

Footnote: Simon Jenkins’ excellent article from yesterday’s Guardian is HERE

and to add context to Gerry Adams’ remarks, his full article is HERE

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