Senior DUP figure texted Taoiseach claiming credit for Derrymen James McClean, Shane Duffy and Martin O’Neill

9 October 2017; James McClean, second from right, celebrates after scoring his side's goal with his Republic of Ireland team-mates including, Jeff Hendrick, Harry Arter, Robbie Brady, Shane Duffy and David Meyler during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Wales and Republic of Ireland at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
9 October 2017; James McClean, second from right, celebrates after scoring his side's goal with his Republic of Ireland team-mates including, Jeff Hendrick, Harry Arter, Robbie Brady, Shane Duffy and David Meyler during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Wales and Republic of Ireland at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

A senior DUP figure texted the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, after former Derry City winger, James McClean, scored the winner, and Foyle Harps old boy, Shane Duffy, was named, ‘Man of the Match’ of the Republic of Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualifying victory over Wales last Monday.

The reason? To ensure Derry was given due credit for a win that ensured the Republic of Ireland were in the draw for the play-offs to decide who will be going to the World Cup in Russia next year.

Mr. Varadkar made the revelation during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual president’s dinner on Friday.

He quipped: “On Monday I received a text message from a DUP politician - whose name you all will know - reminding me that the role of people from Derry had in our success should not be forgotten, what with the manager, the goalscorer, and the ‘Man of the Match’, all from here!”

The Taoiseach was making a serious point, namely, that sport in Ireland, has been, and can continue to be, a great unifier in Ireland.

“Sport has an incredible way of bringing people together.

“Why does politics so often have to tear us apart?

“Maybe it’s because we try to approach them the same way, always keeping score, and never forgetting old rivalries,” he said.

Mr. Varadkar suggested Ireland’s bid to hold the Rugby World Cup in 2023, which, if successful, will see Celtic Park used as one of the stadia, and Derry act as host to one of the participating nations, would further unite people.

“Next month we will find out if we have been successful in our bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup in 2023 in Ireland.

“If we are, it will be a powerful statement about how far we have come as a country, as the whole island joins together to showcase the best of Ireland north and south to the world,” he said.