‘For God and Ulster’, gay marriage and soccer

Jamie Bryson
Jamie Bryson

Gay marriage and loyalism are incompatible, the loyalist leader and flag protestor Jamie Bryson announced recently. He says same-sex unions “make a mockery” of the UVF slogan, For God and Ulster.

The announcement begs a very old question. Who are loyalists loyal to? The irony of claiming loyalty to ultra-tolerant, multi-cultural Britain while espousing views you’d be more likely to hear in Vladimir Putin’s Russia seems lost on young Mr Bryson.

The Sunday Times reported that Bryson, 23, made the trip to Luxembourg for Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifying match. When he discovered his group was booked into a hotel in the city’s red-light district, he hastily rebooked. Of course, that sort of place is also incompatible with God and Ulster.

You may remember young Bryson was the North’s mascot for their match against Azerbaijan. You wouldn’t have recognised him though – he had a football head and enormous boots.

Unfortunately, Jamie and his friends wouldn’t have enjoyed the last match. The North went down to mighty Luxemburg. Still, there were two consolations. The Grand Dutchy, with a population just a third of the North’s, won by one goal. And, the home team must have been extraordinarily highly motivated after 41 years without a win.

One wag suggested the IFA should now put Dr Richard Haass in charge of the team on the grounds that he’s “in charge of just about everything else”.

Predictably, the defeat sparked renewed speculation about an All-Ireland team. That was based on the wise old maxim, ‘If you can’t beat them – join them’! And, if St Columb’s College old boy Martin O’Neill does become the Republic’s manager as expected, he’ll need to strengthen his squad.

With North and South both out of contention for the World Cup there’s a rumour going around that some people are actually hoping the English qualify, to add interest to the contest.

Can things really be that bad?