The drama, entitled Lish and Gerry At The Shrine is based around two Northern Irish Football legends who crossed the sectarian divide in the 1940s. Elisha Scott was the Protestant manager of Belfast Celtic while Gerry Morgan was Linfield’s Catholic trainer.
With the valued support of EU Peace III funding the drama deals with sectarianism in football and touches on several issues that exist in today’s society. Also challenged are some of the stereotypical perceptions surrounding Linfield and Celtic. In spite of their fierce rivalry, the two clubs had a more positive relationship with one another than many realise.
Lish and Gerry At The Shrine will be followed by an interactive workshop which will examine the progress that has been made in promoting community relations within the local game.
Michael Boyd, head of Community Relations at the Irish FA said, “This witty, clever and moving drama was first shown at Windsor Park in 2010 and was so successful that a group of local MLAs decided to bring the event to Stormont. The Association has learnt from the past and moved on to become a community focused organisation which is mainstreaming community relations into the heart of the Association.
“We are proactively supporting Irish league clubs to further mainstream community relations with regards to helping them with free community audits, development of community relations strategies and developing sustainable funding plans to support these strategies,” added Boyd.
Padraig Coyle, Chairman of Belfast Celtic Society said, “Apart from the personal satisfaction of writing the drama, it’s very rewarding to see how the Lish and Gerry characters have encouraged people into talking about the past. At the heart of it all they were football men who shared a common love of the game and had great respect for each other.”
East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said: “It is a pleasure to sponsor the performance of this challenging play at the Assembly and to support the great work of the IFA to contribute to improved community relations in local football and the wider community in Northern Ireland.
“Whilst our political leaders continue to struggle to reach agreement around building a shared future and dealing with the past, community reconciliation initiatives like this creative performance are demonstrating what can be achieved when we work together.”