UUP community and voluntary spokesperson Kenny Donaldson last week suggested that Northern Ireland football should consider replacing ‘God Save The Queen’ with a new regional anthem. The News Letter subsequently reported how Ian Paisley Jnr, Jim Allister and David McNarry came out strongly against the idea. However, the concept has gained traction.
Writing in Monday’s News Letter letters pages, Kenny Donaldson urged the IFA to move quickly to commission a regional anthem – a move he believes will take politics out of football. The letter is reproduced below. Please submit a comment but if you would like to submit a lengthier response on this topic, email it to me and I’ll post up responses where I can…
By Kenny Donaldson
A number of days ago this paper carried extracts of a statement that I made concerning “Player eligibility” as regards the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland football teams. The particular comments that the News Letter focussed its’ attentions on was my call for a new Regional Anthem to be developed for Northern Ireland. Having made the initial proposal and having cited my reasons for it, I have sat back and allowed the debate to develop. And of course this being Northern Ireland, there have been many courageous politicians who rather than engaging in the debate have performed the age old Unionist trait of; proclaiming “NO SURRENDER.” A number have accused me of being guilty of nationalist appeasement.
Misrepresent as they have tried, the reality of the situation is this, I have received numerous emails and telephone calls of support from far and wide. I would encourage the media and “these politicians to consult with the Northern Ireland fan forum websites/blogs. Not for the first time grassroots opinion is way ahead of its’ “blinkered and reactionary politicians.”
I am proud to call myself British. I’m confident in my Nationality and folks; that’s the key word – Nationality. Having a strong Regional identity and wanting to promote and practise that identity does not erode the British Nationality, rather it strengthens and copper-fastens it.
The Welsh and the Scottish are proud of their Regional identities and they bellow their anthems out with pride and vigour. Northern Ireland also has a distinct Regional identity and it is fully consistent for that identity to be fostered and promoted within the realms of the UK Nation.
Those who take pride in; O Flower of Scotland or Land of Our Fathers are proud of their Regional identity but they are also in the main, British Unionists. Yet there continues to be people in this Country so insecure about their identity that they feel that they need to clutch to what they perceive as being the ultimate “practising loyalist” at every opportunity?
A National Anthem is by its own name; the property of the United Kingdom and in the sphere of sport should be reserved for occasions when the Nation collectively competes.
I am convinced moreso than ever that there is a groundswell of support from right throughout the community that our Northern Ireland identity should be promoted. It is this identity which truly can unite Protestant, Catholic and dissenter because its’ a commonality that we all share within this territory.
I make these comments as Kenny Donaldson who is; an avid follower of Northern Ireland football, who is a sports fan, who is proud of my Northern Ireland identity and who is proud of my British Nationality.
(pic credit: Andrew Stewart’s photostream on flickr.)