McIlroy’s win provides good news boost for North

Golfer meets McGuinness, Robinson at Stormont but without trophy, which needed a clean

Rory McIlroy (centre) meets Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson (left) and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness  at Stormont Castle after winning the British Open Golf Championship. Photograph: PA

Rory McIlroy (centre) meets Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson (left) and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle after winning the British Open Golf Championship. Photograph: PA

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 15:47

Rory McIlroy’s British Open success has brought much “joy and happiness” at a time when so many people are mourning, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has said.

McIlroy visited Stormont Castle this morning to meet both the Deputy First Minister and Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson.

The new Open champion has been to a series of homecoming engagements after arriving in Belfast yesterday afternoon on a private jet.

It is becoming a familiar trek for McIlroy whose last visit also coincided with his previous major success in 2011.

Both Mr McGuinness and Mr Robinson were effusive in their praise of McIlroy who is arguably Northern Ireland’s most famous son after a third major success at the weekend, and he’s still just 25.

Mr McGuinness alluded to the tragedies in Gaza and Ukraine when he said there is so much “sadness and broken hearts in the world” at present, but McIlroy had created a “huge buzz” for all of us.

Mr Robinson described McIlroy as a “tremendous ambassador for Northern Ireland. It gives the kind of message about Northern Ireland we want people to hear, good news relating to Northern Ireland.”

He added: “Apart from all that, he is a thoroughly decent fellow.” He joked that there was no truth in the rumours that McIlroy had come home to resolve the June monitoring round, the protracted Stormont assembly budget negotiations.

But “I suspect that, if he put his hand to that he would succeed in doing that as well.”

McIlroy apologised for coming to Stormont without the famous Claret judge which “needed a bit of a clean” after the celebrations of the previous night.

Pictures have surfaced on Twitter of McIlroy filling up the trophy with the Jagermeister, the liqueur which is often consumed with Red Bull.

The new Open champion, casually dressed in a pair of jeans and Nike trainers in contrast to the besuited politicians, expressed his pride in coming from Northern Ireland.

“I’m proud about where I come from and I’ll never lose sight of that,” he said. “It is tremendous to be able to share in these sorts of moments with friends and family.”

Having declared earlier in the day that his ambition remains to be the best golfer in the world and to win the one major which eludes him, the US Masters, McIlroy said he hoped to return again to Stormont in the future as a champion.