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Survey Reveals Majority Of People In Northern Ireland Want United Ireland Soccer Team

By Conor Neville
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It's a slight majority but it's a majority all the same. A survey has found that the majority of people in Northern Ireland are in favour of the creation of an all-Ireland soccer team.

The University of Ulster have published a very lengthy report examining how sport can contribute to peace building and social inclusion. They found that 54% of respondents were in favour of an all-Ireland soccer team.

Unsurprisingly, support for the idea was especially strong among Catholics, with 70% being in favour. However, a significant minority of Protestants were also in favour, with 39% backing the idea.

Two years back, after Northern Ireland were humbled by Luxembourg and the Republic of Ireland's unsuccessful 2014 qualifying campaign was dribbling to a quiet conclusion, UTV ran a segment examining the possibility of an all-Ireland team.

[Watch Video]

Two years on, both sides are revitalised and have received their invitations to next summer's big party in France.


But despite this, the dream of an All-Ireland soccer team hasn't gone away, you know. This survey is a testament to that.


An all-Ireland team has taken the field before albeit without the sanction of the IFA. In 1973, Brazil were invited over to play a game against the quaintly named 'Shamrock Rovers XI'. The name had been changed out of sensitivity to IFA sensibilities.

The fixture was arranged by the energetic future chairman of Shamrock Rovers, Louis Kilcoyne. It was enthusiastically backed by a number of the Northern Irelland players, most notably Derek Dougan.



Elsewhere, the survey found that Catholics are less hostile to the Northern Ireland team than was previously thought. 71% of Catholics agreed that the IFA were taking strong steps to combat sectarianism and two-thirds said they would like to see more Catholics support the side. 56% said they would attend a game at Windsor Park if offered a ticket.

There was a sharp religious divide when it came to the GAA. Only 1% of Protestants said they had watched 'a lot' of Gaelic football compared to 39% of Catholics. Only 39% of Protestants said they would take up the offer of a ticket to Casement Park.

Qualitative data from the interviews revealed Protestant disapproval of the GAA for its political associations with Irish nationalism, yet at the same time, positive recognition of its community spirit and organisational acumen, and respect for Gaelic sports per se.

The Irish rugby team, meanwhile, attracted equal levels of Protestant and Catholic interest. Protestants were slightly more likely to take an interest in the fortunes in the Ulster team.

Read more: The 5 Different Reactions In The South To Northern Ireland Qualifying For Euro 2016

Read more: Labour Councillour On Why He Wants Dublin Reception For Ireland And Northern Ireland Teams

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