Northern Ireland news

Joe Brolly says he believes concept of nationalism is 'dying'

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane and Joe Brolly during their interview for OTB Sports

GAA pundit Joe Brolly has said he believes the concept of nationalism is "dying".

The former Derry footballer also said most people across Ireland are now "happy to see themselves as Europeans" and that nationalism was no longer as important.

His comments came during a joint interview with Sinn Féin MP John Finucane for Off The Ball Sports, in which the two men discussed how political division in Northern Ireland had caused delays in the redevelopment of Casement Park.

They also spoke about how the development of the west Belfast stadium was key to securing a joint Irish/UK bid to host Euro 2028.

Mr Brolly said he believes that mistakes were made in properly engaging with local residents on the redevelopment and that the failure to modernise the GAA facility while new soccer and rugby stadiums have been built is reflective of long standing divides in Northern Ireland.

The two men spoke about the redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

Speaking as part of the interview with Eoin Sheahan, Mr Brolly also discussed the concept of nationalism.

"I think that nationalism as a concept is dying anyway," he said.

"Ireland is in a sort of very strong federation of 27 states. All together, of the 48 European countries and dependancies, 45 of them are either in the European Union, European free trade areas, like the Scandinavian countries or are applying to join the EU.

"There are are only three outside. Belarus, Russia and now the United Kingdom."

His comments echo those of the late former SDLP leader John Hume, who once declared that he was living in "a post-nationalist age". In 2004, the loss of the European Parliament seat once held by Mr Hume to Sinn Féin was also seen as a result of the party's lack of attention to nationalist concerns.

Mr Brolly also said during the interview that he believed, in Ireland, most people were happy to see themselves as Europeans and that Scotland had tried to distance itself from the 'xenophobia' of Brexit.

"The Scots are trying to disassociate themselves from this," he said.

"They never voted for Brexit. We see where that nationalism brings you, that xenophobia.

"We see it in Russia, in Belarus. We are seeing it in England. In Ireland, I think the people are happy to be Europeans now."

Mr Brolly said he believes the concepts of nationalism on either side of the border were no longer as important to people.

"Increasingly, of course we go and cheer the team on when they are playing rugby," he said.

"We cheer the team on when they play their big soccer games.

"But, the concept of nationalism, I think it's dying. It is dying. I think it is dying in the north as well, I believe. We are seeing through Brexit how ridiculous it is."

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