James McClean’s Irish identity has been emphatically underlined in a debate in the Oireachtas during which Sinn Féin Senator, Niall Ó Donnghaile, blasted the ‘insidious partitionism’ persisting in some quarters in the South.
The senator was speaking after the former Derry City winger kept the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifying hopes alive with his vital winning goal against Wales in Cardiff last week.
And with Shane Duffy voted the ‘man of the match’ during the Wales game, also hailing from Derry, Senator Ó Donnghaile said proud Irishmen like these needed to be given the respect they deserved in the South.
Referring to RTÉ panelist Eamon Dunphy’s tongue-in-cheek, “where would we be without Londonderry?” quip, after the match, Senator Ó Donnghaile told colleagues that James McClean was as Irish as as his international and former Sunderland team-mate, David Meyler.
“That is the reality for many of us. It is cultural, psychological, social and political. If we are to ask the British Government and unionism to respect our place as Irish citizens, people and figures, we need to have a serious conversation about how we reconcile people in the South with those of us in the North who are Irish and how our citizenship is treated with equal status,” claimed the Belfast based senator.
Dunphy, for the record, went on to describe McClean as a “mighty man” who you’d always want on your side.
But Senator Ó Donnghaile said: “Partitionism is not just mechanical. It does not just intrude in the mechanics and logistics of our lives. A psychology of partitionism prevails. When the Good Friday Agreement gave us citizenship and afforded us the right to participate in the life of the Irish nation, it never said that Northern Ireland was perpetually settled and done.”