Belfast Telegraph

Politicians singing the same old song over National Anthem

Editor's Viewpoint

It seems that many people in Northern Ireland, and politicians in particular, are incapable of learning from the past.

There is always a feeling of Groundhog day with old mantras being repeated endlessly.

The controversy over the decision not to play the National Anthem before the Irish Cup final between Cliftonville and Glentoran on Saturday is just another variation on a depressing and all too familiar theme.

What should be the showpiece of the local soccer season is now mired in anger and recrimination.

No one raised a whimper when the anthem was axed four years ago at the Irish Cup final or at this year's League Cup final. But there is a suspicion that mischief was at work this time when the IFA's decision was leaked.

However, the situation need not have deteriorated to its present state if people had kept cool heads and followed the advice of Jim Boyce, a vice president of Fifa, to stop mixing sport and politics.

Yet some senior politicians, who one would have thought had far more important and pressing matters to attend to, feel the need to air their views on it. Just as with the flags row at Christmas, all the politicians have succeeded in doing is giving an air of respectability to the controversy and, potentially, encouraged wilder elements to take more disturbing action.

There is a sickening feeling that a train of events has been set in motion which could take some stopping.

And it must be said that the situation has not been helped by some elements of the media who have given unneeded publicity to those with nothing constructive to say. But it is still not too late.

Politicians should divorce themselves from the controversy and instead encourage fans of both teams to enjoy what could be a great spectacle of local sport.

Surely the only song that either set of supporters should really want to sing is one with the word champions in the lyrics.

Belfast Telegraph


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