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    Sport journalist calls for recognition of rugby diaspora

    By Noreen Bowden | May 8, 2008

    A sportswriter in the Irish Independent has written an interesting article on how Ireland should welcome home our sporting diaspora from Britain. Billy Keane takes the London Irish rugby club as the starting point for his article, “Exile odyssey highlights need to welcome back all those in our extended green family”. He extends his concerns, however, to other sportspeople as well.

    He notes that many of the London Irish rugby players with Irish names have gone on to play for England. He says it was a mistake that the Irish national team’s strategy in the past was to recruit mostly from Ireland. He says:

    The London Irish kids have spent holidays back home and believe me the Irish in England are as Irish as any of us. And more so because their limited access to our culture makes the yearning and respect all the greater.

    And before we move on let us praise the GAA, who do a marvellous job in nurturing and networking our emigrants and their offspring.

    London Irish is the ideal medium for the second generation who choose England as their home country to express their Irishness. It’s a form of compromise. We would prefer if they declared for us.

    Keane notes that “history and county of origin have developed different forms of Irishness”, and describes the warm welcome he received in Glasgow the day Celtic won the 2000 Scottish title.

    He concludes:

    So let us follow on from President Robinson and light a candle tonight and every night for all of our people, whatever the jersey’s colour.

    Read  the whole article on the Irish Independent’s website.

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