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Politicians appear on the sporting landscape but are they "uneasy" about Conor McGregor?

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

09:36 17 Feb 2016

When David Cameron famously professed himself to be a West Ham fan last year, it probably appeared beneficial to be in tune with the everyday life of British citizens in an election year. 

Unfortunately for him, the Tory Prime Minister had forgotten all about the fact that he is supposed to be an Aston Villa fan, causing ridicule to be pointed his way.

Those involved in political circles have long known about the power that sports can have, including in Ireland and that's exactly what Sunday Independent writer Declan Lynch joined Off The Ball to talk about tonight.

One example that he looked at was former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey.

"Haughey was a peculiar beast in this respect. Whether he had any genuine interest in sport is entirely mysterious, although the thing we do know about Haughey is that he favoured the more aristocratic type of sport like shooting and fishing and hunting and horse riding. You could never imagine Haughey playing golf and I think the reason for that is that for him, it would be too bourgeois and it might be the sort of thing you imagine a taxi driver playing," said Lynch, who spoke about Haughey appearance at the Tour de France in 1987 when Stephen Roche won the event.

An Taoiseach Charles J. Haughey of the Republic of Ireland walks towards the fans at Italia 90 ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Lynch then went on to discuss the case of a more recent Fianna Fail Taoiseach in Bertie Ahern, who once famously appeared on RTE's The Premiership.

"Bertie is probably the one that most people associate with sport and with a genuine interest in sport. But I would question that as well to an extent. I would have always have regarded Bertie as being so completely obsessed with politics that the sport was always just had to be a part of that," he explained.

But he also had a theory when it comes to politicians associating themselves with successful sports people.

"One interesting thing about politicians attaching themselves to successful sports people. Conor McGregor, they're a bit uneasy about McGregor. Every other Irish champion of any kind is lavished with political praise. They've really stayed away from McGregor and that's kind of interesting.  There is that sense of something's happening and they don't know what that is and so they'd prefer to stay out of it." 

Looking towards the UK, Lynch recalled Tony Blair professing his love for Jackie Milburn era Newcastle - when he would have been a toddler as Milburn finished up playing at Newcastle, while his successor Gordon Brown appears to be a far more genuine sports fan.

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