Maurice Hayes: Belfast needs a vision for the future to get past cultural divides
Published 27/06/2011 | 05:00
THERE is a sad irony in the fact that the publicity arising from Rory McIlroy's majestic performance in the US Open should be responsible for ensuring that the world's media was there to record the shame of the worst rioting in Belfast for decades. Last Sunday week, positive images of the new Northern Ireland were projected across the world. The appeal was universal, the publicity beyond price.
On Monday night, with the cameras in place for the homecoming and a raft of journalists hungry for colour pieces, Northern Ireland appeared to revert to type. As if on cue, the old animosities were revived and what the world saw was not a feu de joie for a charismatic young sportsman but a shower of petrol bombs and bullets.
In so many ways, Rory McIlroy is the personification of how post-conflict Northern Ireland wishes to project itself on the world stage -- a young, articulate man, assured in his mastery of his craft, comfortable in his identity as a citizen of Northern Ireland, cosmopolitan in an international sport, yet deeply rooted in family and community.