6/20/2006

FIFA change mind in passport row

Good to see that FIFA have backed down on their unfortunate decision not to allow people with only Irish passports to represent the Northern Ireland soccer team. This was a needlessly controversial issue and its good to see that it has finally been resolved. While there may not have been many people who wished to represent N.I. but refused to carry a british passport, the reality is that those who fit into this category should not have been discriminated agaionst on the grounds of their political belief.

However, one part of the story did irk me a little. Yesterday I heard Howard Wells on the radio giving off about Dermot Ahern's contribution claiming that the Irish foreign minister should have consulting with the IFA first. This is complete rubbish. Dermot Ahern has a right, and indeed, a responsibility to intercede on behalf of northern Nationalists in whatever way he feels appropriate and fair play to him for doing so. Given how many years it took the the IFA to deal with the disgusting levels of sectarian hatred regularly displayed at Windsor Park in the eighties and nineties (although there has certainly been real progress made recently), it is hardly surprising that some may feel that the IFA do not exactly have the best track record in rushing to the defence of Nationalists. To ensure an immediate response, Mr. Ahern was entirely correct to deal with the issue of his accord and it is to his credit that he did so.

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