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On The Rampage: Rory McIlroy’s Nationality Is Rory McIlroy’s Business

Posted September 12, 2012 by Laura in Ramp Specials

Oh Rory.

Rory. Rory. Rory.


No doubt the sound of your PR team slapping their foreheads rung out across the nation.



What makes it such an awful position to be in is I have grown up my whole life playing for Ireland under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella … But the fact is, I’ve always felt more British than Irish. Maybe it was the way I was brought up, I don’t know, but I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland. And so I have to weigh that up against the fact that I’ve always played for Ireland and so it is tough. Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I just hope the vast majority will understand.

Until recent days, you were one of the only sports personalities from Northern Ireland that all of our communities could support. We’d wave at you in Nandos, take to your courses and beam that for once we were being known internationally for something positive – being really good at getting small balls into small holes very far away. You were a lovely, neutral person, excelling in your chosen field, that we could all support together. Our local boy done good, so to speak.

Now, you’ve only gone and buggered it up. You shouldn’t have to state your thoughts on the sensitive nature of your nationality at all but coming from where we do, it’s a subject that won’t be dropped no matter how many titles you win. While it is disappointing that you were forced to provide an answer in the first place, you shouldn’t have to risk losing the support of half the population, because you did.

Being from Northern Ireland, I’m not disappointed that Rory has declared that he feels more British than Irish because it has nothing to do with what he has achieved for his age. Furthermore, this ‘revelation’ will not make me stop supporting him because I’m not an idiot. Sadly, this will not be the case for many across this island as demonstrated by the inevitable over-reaction from online commentators.

Now let’s make this clear – People from Northern Ireland are entitled to the following nationalities:

* We can be Irish.

* We can be British or ‘United Kingdomish’ which I am assured is actually a thing.

* We can call ourselves ‘Northern Irish’ and acknowledge both our Irish and British nationalities.

We’re an anomaly. It is our choice and our right to these nationalities (and their relevant passports) according to countless legislation collectively agreed upon by the UK and Irish Governments and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In respect of the Olympics, ‘Team GB’ is actually ‘Team GB & NI’ but during London 2012, people were lazy and couldn’t be arsed adding the ‘& NI’ every time. People from Northern Ireland can apply to be part of ‘Team GB’ or ‘Team Ireland’. It’s completely up to them if they are at a standard that will get them to Rio 2016 and we should wish them all well.

This seems to be something that is going over the heads of people outside Northern Ireland given the ridiculous uproar surrounding McIlroy’s recent comments:

But of COURSE he’s Irish. He’s Catholic! His beloved GAA playing Da, Gerry is from Andersonstown (a fiercely Nationalist community in Belfast)! His Great Uncle was murdered by the UVF! He was supported by the Golfing Union of IRELAND! He’s played for Ireland at all levels as a boy! He’s from ULSTER! EVEN IAN PAISLEY ADMITS HE’S IRISH. WE WANT HIM. HE’S IRISH

But of COURSE he’s British. He’s from NORTHERN Ireland! HE’S FROM BRITAIN! Northern Ireland is in the United Kingdom! He’s FROM ULSTER! He grew up in Holywood (a wealthy, mostly Protestant community outside Belfast)! He went to Sullivan Upper School! He used to go out with a Protestant! WE WANT HIM. HE’S BRITISH


Calm down people. Stop getting upset and put it in perspective. He hasn’t declared war on Ireland. He isn’t denying his Irish heritage or deliberately trying to raise a controversial topic. He isn’t trying to insult those who have supported him in the past; in fact he has been openly appreciative in his ‘Open Letter’. On his website, he declares in large white letters ‘I AM A GOLFER’ which is all that should really matter. He has regularly been forced to speak about his personal feelings towards his own nationality and rather unwisely, he answered. He was damned no matter what he said.

Nationality, to a person from Northern Ireland, is a terribly personal thing – it’s not just black and white. It’s a concept we deal with from birth, regardless of what community we are born into, that we spend years considering so we know how to handle the complicated, sensitive mix of cultures we are surrounded by.

Given the nature of our political history, for some nationality is so crucial to the very fabric of their existence that they seize it, with all their heart and soul and celebrate it daily throughout their own culture. For some ‘Nordies’, nationality basically comes down to ‘what passport is cheaper to buy at this moment in time’. Some couldn’t give half a shit. For others, they have yet to, or may never, make up their minds choosing instead to embrace a brilliant mixture of both identities – the kind of people that only years of exhausting political turmoil can create. Not enough time has passed for scars to completely heal here so to speak for us to label us one thing or another is inappropriate and wrong.

No one has the right to tell someone from Northern Ireland what nationality they are. We don’t do it to each other and will not accept anyone else doing it to us.

It doesn’t matter how much you watch the news or how much you claim to have read about our politics; unless you come from NI, sadly you won’t and cannot understand. So stop labelling us – it only exposes your own ignorance and makes you look like an asshole.

There is nothing wrong with asking questions, nationality is not a taboo subject, but it’s the people who try to tell us all about NI, what we are or how to fix things that frustrate us. I’ve lost count how many times I have been told what nationality I am. I am regularly ‘tested’ by people from the South and the UK who take great amusement in trying to guess my ‘side’ from my name, my city, my accent or how far apart my eyes are. They are always wrong. It’s irritating and more to the point, it’s none of their fucking business just as it’s none of our business about what side of his nationality Rory McIlroy feels more comfortable with.

If golf features during the 2016 Olympics, which is another article in itself, McIlroy will, of course, have to choose a team to play for but whatever he chooses, we must keep in mind that he doesn’t owe anyone or any country anything.

Rory McIlroy plays golf for himself alone as he always has done. People should appreciate the complexity of his situation and support him, if they choose to, as an individual no matter what flag he decides to wave in Rio.

Now everyone fuck up and leave him alone.

About the Author


Laura likes stuff, enjoys things and hates surprises.

  • Galwaywegian

    Felt more British what though? everybody know those British have no morals and allow themselves to be felt without even a howya. filthy lovebombing sluts the lot of them!

    • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

      “I have always felt more British than French. The French have such high standards and don’t enjoy my groping at all.”

  • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

    Was there any right-thinking person in these fair isles who didn’t go “Nooooo! Rory, nooooo! Don’t give in to them!” as soon as he began attempting to explain his nationality?

    I’m with Laura. Whether Rory feels Irish or British or Northern Irish or Maltese or a bit fluey is no one’s business but Rory’s.

  • Davros64

    It’s the fools who call themselves ‘British’ & ‘Irish’ who get me.
    You’re one or the other, not both, FFS.

    • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

      How so? What’s the difference between a person from Northern Ireland identifying as British and Irish, and a person from the US identifying as African American or Irish Italian? Can’t an individual choose to identify with and recognise all aspects of their culture or heritage?

      No one’s suggesting that Irish Italians are claiming that Ireland’s part of Italy, after all.

      • Davros64

        Because it’s a contradiction in terms.
        Nobody, unless it’s due to parentage, would claim to belong to two neighbouring countries…

        And most of those people claiming this Don’t want anything to do with Ireland, in case you hadn’t noticed…

        • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

          I hadn’t noticed. Had you?

          Presuming to be able to speak for another individual’s nationality is arrogant. If someone wants to identify as both Irish and British, let them. It shouldn’t offend or challenge your personal beliefs and you shouldn’t feel insulted by it.

          As Laura has pointed out, people from the North are consistently subjected to others telling them who they are and what culture they belong to. It’s a complex issue and it’s up to the individual, in this case, Rory, to decide for themselves which aspect of Northern culture they identify with, if any.

          I reckon if someone wants to say they’re British and Irish, that’s valid. You wouldn’t get so het up about someone saying they were British and Scottish, or British and English.

          • Davros64

            You must live in a bubble then…

            And if they can’t decide what nationality or identity they belong to (unless they’re of mixed parentage) more fool them…

            No-one is saying they don’t have the right to choose one.

          • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

            Bubble? No. It’s more like I don’t usually go around collating data on the nefarious intent of people who claim to be both British and Irish.

            This “There can only be one” mentality seems dangerous. In a region so complex in population and culture, like Northern Ireland, it can only be problematic to continue to validate the divide by telling people they can only be one or the other.

          • Davros64

            Neither do I. It’s based on personal experience. And various polls collating this.

            Hear you about ‘polarization’, but based on the electoral results in the North, it would appear the voters want it such a way…

            And if it was such a panacea the two governments would have offered joint citizenship. They haven’t…

          • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

            No one’s saying that everyone in the North wants to be Irish and British; there is a cultural divide and that’s not going to disappear over Rory McIlroy, no matter how talented he is. But for those that do want to say they’re Irish and British, for whatever reason, let them. The definition is valid, in a semantic sense.

            I think there’s a lot more harm in telling people that they have to be either Irish or British, not both, than there is in accepting dual identification. Just perpetuates the ‘them or us’ type thing. As Laura points out, in the Republic we’re as guilty of it, claiming that Northern Catholics are “one of us” without actually checking whether they actually fancy being appropriated.

            Personally, I don’t feel I can speak for anyone else’s nationality or culture or background. I’m from an odd background myself, and there are certain aspects of my family make-up that I don’t identify with. I’d be annoyed if someone told me who I was.

          • Davros64

            Except that people have been told for generations that they mainly just belong to one identity or nationality…

            Understand the point about the world/community now being more mixed, but an element of exclusivity is what allows us to celebrate our differences by identifying with one (or as few as possible!) indigenous groups…

          • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

            Yup, and there’s nothing wrong with identifying one way or the other. We don’t all have to be the same and there’s not a jot wrong with having national pride, so long as it’s not making you bigoted.

            But, by the same token, I don’t think there’s any worth in forcing people to pick one way or the other, or to pin down a community or nationality to belong to. I reckon that’s as bad as telling people they can’t be proud of where they come from.

            Forcing the issue can’t end well.

          • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

            @Davros64:disqus Joint citzenship? How is that any different to providing people the option for both passports. That’s just a different wording on what we already have.

          • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

            @Davros64:disqus But you seem to think that we don’t have the right to acknowledge both.

          • Davros64

            Well they look pretty retarded in the main, wanting both…

        • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

          Who are ‘those people’? Are you talking about Protestants?
          Again, you are only demonstrating your ignorance here Davros64. This is the type of opinion that insinuates that a Protestant can’t be a Nationalist or that a Catholic wouldn’t want to stay part of the UK. As you clearly struggle with the relatively simple concept of duel nationality, then how on earth can you be expected to understand the complexities of NI relations with the South.

          • Davros64

            ‘South’ where? Korea?

            And Protestant Nationalists, yeah right.
            Not for a hundred years, sadly…

          • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

            You do know that the United Irishmen were mostly Protestant right?

    • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

      You clearly don’t have an understanding of Northern Ireland.
      I have both a British and Irish passport sitting in my drawer right now. They didn’t give me those passports so I could play ‘spy’. They are legal documents and I am entitled to both. Those passports signify my duel nationality and I can, if I choose to, acknowledge that whilst I was born on the island of Ireland, I am also part of the UK and therefore entitled to acknowledge my British nationality.
      Scottish people are both Scottish and British. Welsh people are both Welsh and British. English people are both English and British. Why would you ever imagine it was different for Northern Irish people?

      • Davros64

        Yawn. Clearly you are confused then.
        Why would anyone want to be ‘both’ (or even 2 passports FFS), besides the reasons I’ve already cited…

        NB. The island of Britain is England, Scotland & Wales. Nowhere else…

        • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

          While Great Britain refers to England, Scotland and Wales, the term ‘British’ refers to people who are subjects of the United Kingdom and its territories. So yes, you can be British if you’re from Northern Ireland.

          Your dismissal of Laura’s own identity is actually mind-boggling. Whether or not you can personally understand why anyone would want to be British and Irish is inconsequential. You don’t get to specify either on her behalf. That’s the whole point of this article.

          • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

            It’s also mind boggling how anyone like Davros64 can have such a strong opinion about NI nationality when he/she clearly doesn’t understand duel nationality, Irish history and politics. In addition he/she clearly doesn’t understand that not all Catholics are Nationalists, not all Protestants are Loyalist and not all Northern people want ‘nothing to do with Ireland’.

        • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

          @davros64 The island of Great Britain is England, Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s on the front of the British passport in clear letters.

  • http://twitter.com/Fearganainim Fearganainim

    Good stuff. Let Rory choose for himself. I was born in the UK and raised in Ireland and other foreign parts, and I’m entitled to dual citizen ship ( does that still exist? ) if I so choose.
    I choose to be Irish.

  • http://twitter.com/nuckpang Stephen R.

    Absolutely bang on, Laura. It’s up to the man who he wants to associate himself with.

    Honestly, given how mental the Irish can get about “claiming” people as their own, or disowning them if they run off to live somewhere else, I’d hardly blame him if he didn’t want to associate himself with us. The only thing we should be annoyed about is the fact that it’s still an issue.

    • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

      But it is! It’s also incredibly frustrating that you have to defend your legal right to something to people who insist otherwise with absolutely no ground for it.
      Imagine the frustration of having someone calling you ‘English’. You show them your passport and they still swear blind you aren’t. There is no talking to people. No wonder people think NI people are angry – we’re always being made by other Irish people to defend who we are you know?

    • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

      Does this mean we don’t get to keep Daniel Day Lewis?

  • http://twitter.com/kevmclean Wade W.

    I’m late to the party here, but I’ve always felt more Esperanto than Irish.

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