Open Unionism


A forum to discuss new ideas and perspectives on Unionism…

Should Northern Ireland have its own regional anthem?

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.

An online poll on the fan website Our Wee Country showed support for the idea amid the terraces. Both former player Harry Gregg and the musician Phil Coulter have added their voices to the debate.

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…

Windsor Park

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.)


Filed under: Uncategorized

8 Responses

  1. […] rest is here: Should Northern Ireland have its own regional anthem? « Open Unionism Related Ways to Take Action: contact a shop or restaurant in Northern Ireland which sells foie […]

  2. oneill says:

    “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”

    As a Northern Ireland fan Kenny’s entitled to his opinion, I’m just not sure of the wisdom of bringing the question into the political arena. It should be a question solely for the IFA, the players and those who actually go to watch the team.

  3. bobballs says:

    I do think Kenny’s made an important contribution to bring the issue to the fore. But the really interesting thing is that the IFA are considering changes, OWC users seem to be in favour and other people (like Phil Coulter) are contributing.

    It’s already beginning to move away from politics. So in the long run you’re right O’Neill, and having done the work of igniting the discussion the political elements to the debate must shortly remove themselves and allow the IFA and fans to make up their own minds.

  4. owenpolley says:

    The thing is that Kenny hasn’t instigated the debate. It’s been about for years. Indeed Basil McCrea and Edwin Poots had a similar spat two years ago. This is a rolling issue for Northern Ireland fans and one the parties get involved in occasionally. I doubt this occasion will be much different from the last The politicians will move on to something else, the IFA won’t bite the bullet for fear of creating controversy, the cycle will repeat itself someway down the road.

  5. Ulster Times says:

    I’m not opposed to change but I don’t think the IFA should make any changes until other sports also compromise and support brand ‘Northern Ireland’:

  6. bobballs says:

    Hi Owen – yip this debate has been around a while. Kenny’s contribution is not to come up with a new idea but he has ignited this most recent debate and it has now travelled some distance.

    I remember Basil going at this before and I think even Michael McGimpsey had a go at this while DCAL spokesperson. But I don’t recall the IFA making such positive noises before. It sounds to me like there’s a real appetite for change. And while guys like Shane Duffy keep going south, it must persuade the IFA to break the cycle and look at things differently. What do you reckon?

    Ulster Times – IMHO if the IFA follow that line then they do nothing. Do you really mean everyone should wait till the GAA signs up to brand ‘Northern Ireland’?

  7. Chekov says:

    I suppose the Duffy issue has brought it into focus, but the IFA has been down this road before, suggesting Danny Boy as an anthem and even having it sung before a match. The result was pro-GSTQ leafleting at games, loud renditions during the 90 minutes and loud choruses of ‘you can stick your Danny Boy up your hole’. Now I’m talking about the McIlroy era and things have moved on, but the IFA remains generally positive towards an anthem change. They would change it tomorrow if a high profile backlash and damage to Football For All weren’t the likely result.

  8. […] I read through the article, a screenshot of a blog called ‘Open Unionism’ caught my eye, that there was a picture that looked […]

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