There is a simple solution to the Northern Ireland football anthem problem

A letter from Dr Gerald Morgan:

By Letters
Friday, 31st December 2021, 4:25 am
Updated Sunday, 2nd January 2022, 12:08 am
Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

Re two letters (‘Rory Best’s comment on dropping the national anthem from Northern Ireland football matches is ill-timed’, Decemmber 17, and ‘Happy and glorious... but not for us: UK-wide national anthem should be reserved for UK-wide competitors only,’ Dec 15, see link below)

We remain urgently in need of clarification of the relationship between the individual national identities within the United Kingdom and the identity of the United Kingdom itself.

The present confusion in the use of anthems as an expression of national identity can only create ill-feeling that is certainly not in the long-term interest of the stability of the United Kingdom.

The term ‘British’ does not apply to an individual nation within the United Kingdom but to tbe unity of its constituent parts.

So far, so good. But when the Scots objected to a British anthem for individual Scottish teams and the Welsh to a British anthem for individual Welsh teams the problems began with the failure of the English and Northern Irish to follow suit and amend their own anthems accordingly.

Thus in England and Northern Ireland the national football teams use a British anthem for English teams and Northern Irish teams as well as a British anthem for United kingdom teams. Such a practice is bound to cause offence in Scotland and Wales and lead to a weakening of harmony within the United Kingdom itself.

There is a simple solution to this problem, namely an English anthem for English teams, say Jerusalem, and an Irish anthem for Northern Irish teams, say Danny Boy.

Why is this so difficult for the English and the Northern Irish to understand?

Given the antagonisms that are aroused by this issue on an annual basis (as your columns reveal) this is no small matter.

Do we really prefer alienation and conflict to reconciliation and peace?

Dr Gerald Morgan, Dublin

• More on the anthem debate below

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