Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Why can't we just let Rory worry about golf course flags?

Every so often, something exposes the truth about Northern Ireland.

It's not the Titanic, political murders, our 'famous sense of humour', soda farls, the Giant's Causeway or Tayto crisps.

Right now, it's Rory McIlroy and the Olympic Dilemma.

Where else would a sporting legend face the kind of bitter, narrow-minded, twisted, nasty mindset that Rory McIlroy does? Where else would a documentary charting his world-beating feats of the last 12 months deliver only one type of headline - completely befitting the bitter, narrow-minded, twisted, nasty mindset of his 'native place'?

Whichever flag he chooses to play under if he chooses to play in the next Olympics, he'll be damned for it.

It's not enough that someone is remarkable, brilliant, world-beating.

They must also be 'one of us' or 'one of them'.

But of course, more or less silently, they are already that - the first thing that's clocked about anyone from here, is 'what they are'.

Are they a hero or heroine for the Union or a United Ireland?

That's all that counts.

And it doesn't matter how sophisticated some of us think we are in these matters. The dilemma is presented to Rory McIlroy in all its gory crudity and we stand back to see which way he'll jump, glad it's not us.

Then he'll be a renegade, a turncoat, disloyal or a Castle Catholic. Rory thinks he has three choices - the flag of the Republic, the UK or not to play at all. He actually only has two. Choosing one flag or the other at least feeds the hunger in both portions of our bitter population.

Not playing at all would be to renege on his own genius - though the bitter most of us wouldn't care if that was the sacrifice we forced him to make.

After all, some things are more important than, er, everything, as we are constantly being reminded by masked men.

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