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Politicians pledge Stormont bash for brilliant Rory McIlroy

Politicians at the Northern Ireland Assembly plan to hold a special reception at Stormont to congratulate Rory McIlroy on his historic US Open win.

Business at the legislature was suspended to allow all parties to speak in praise of the young Co Down golfer.

Assembly members also spoke highly of the sacrifices of the McIlroy family who they said had worked tirelessly to produce the new "Celtic Tiger".

The Democratic Unionist Party's Peter Weir, who represents the North Down constituency where the family live, said Rory was born into an average household who worked hard to help their son achieve international acclaim.

"I stand here tired, but elated," he told the Assembly.

"Indeed there are many who spent last night huddled around a television set or a radio listening to the prodigious victory of our native son Rory McIlroy."

He said the golfer's ability to deal with not just victory but also defeats in his career marked him out as a "true sports superstar", and revealed a temperament which Mr Weir said was a tribute also to the young sportsman's family.

Mr Weir said the win, following on the heels of Graeme McDowell's victory in the US Open last year, was a major achievement for Northern Ireland sport.

And he predicted cross-party support for an official reception at the Assembly to recognise the latest success.

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy added his congratulations to what he said was a fantastic achievement and he said there was a "huge sense of pride" in the win.

Mr Murphy said the victory had lifted people "particularly in difficult economic times".

"I think it's a great tribute to him, as a very humble, a very grounded young man. It's a tribute to his parents and the people who have supported him, particularly in Holywood and the golf club there."

He added: "I think clearly on the back of Graeme McDowell's victory last year, and indeed Padraig Harrington's, shows that this small island can punch way above its weight, not just in golf, but in many, many sports."

Ulster Unionist Leslie Cree said: "This is, apart from a personal triumph, a great victory for tourism in Northern Ireland.

"He is going to be a great ambassador for sport and a great ambassador for tourism."

The SDLP's Karen McKevitt said McIlroy's triumph topped that of Tiger Woods' early career.

"Well, we have got our own Tiger," she said, "Our Celtic Tiger."

She said McIlroy had attracted international attention to Northern Ireland.

"He sold the brand of Northern Ireland so well, it was the way he did it," said the SDLP representative.

"Yes, it was brilliant golf, but in a very modest way. He was spectacular, yet calm."

The Alliance Party, Green Party, Traditional Unionist Voice and independents added their congratulations.

The Alliance's Chris Lyttle praised a coach who had trained McIlroy, and with whom the Assembly member also had lessons.

"But admittedly, with a different level of success than Rory," he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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