Yet for the purposes of the Olympics, they seem to have been stripped of their citizenship and left in geopolitical limbo over the Irish Sea.
The great triumph of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, or so we were told ad infinitum, was that it preserved Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom and thus defended the integrity of the nation.
Big, big task on Sunday but we need to have faith #Dare To Dream #Dream Bigger #GAWA pic.twitter.com/s4xy4UZg Gf— Hollee Mc Ilwaine (@holleem) November 10, 2017After the match Evans himself had branded the referee's decision 'disgraceful'. These things happen in football but the referee didn't help us at all tonight.'We have to pick ourselves up now and hopefully the lads can get a result out in Switzerland.
It will be difficult but we have to forget about this game and focus on the game in Basle now.'I'm absolutely devastated about the decision but the game in Basle is more important and I will be there to support them.'Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill said after the game: 'It is staggering to think that the referee can award a penalty in that situation.'The referee is five or six yards from the incident, he has nobody in his line of sight.'Corry has just gone to block it. It's such a vital stage of the game.'The tackle, the opening tackle, was borderline red card, so the referee did us no favours tonight.' In 2013, the referee sparked controversy for not following UEFA protocol for racism in a Champions League match in Russia, between Manchester City and CSKA Moscow.
International players' union Fif Pro and anti-racism body Kick It Out both criticised Hategan for failing to stop the match, with the latter's chairman, Lord Ouseley, saying: 'The referee should not be refereeing again.'He failed to do his duty last night and that is a clear issue that UEFA should be dealing with.' UEFA cleared Hategan of blame despite him not following the governing body's own procedures and CSKA Moscow's ground was partially closed for the following season's Champions League matches.