New York Times: Northern Ireland looks past the past

Back in March I travelled to Belfast to find out more about the Northern Ireland national football team, who had qualified for Euro 2016.

It was my first time in Belfast, a city synonymous with The Troubles, three decades of turbulence that took hundreds of lives. Today, the city still has some divisions and the national team has largely been seen by the catholic nationalist community as a symbol of British rule. In fact, when I was in Belfast there was uproar that the Northern Irish football top had been banned from some pubs as it was considered by some a sectarian symbol. In fact, several catholic Northern Ireland born players have chosen to represent the Republic of Ireland. But Northern Ireland is a different place today. The coach is catholic, as is half the team.

I wrote this for the New York Times about my trip to the biggest match in the Northern Irish season, The Big Two derby between Linfield and Glentoran.

I also spent some time with the Northern Ireland national team coach, Michael O’Neill, in Edinburgh. You can hear more on the BBC World Service’s World Football show.

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