Frank McNally in the Irish Times takes up my complaint about an Iarnród Éireann competition which was confined to residents of the Republic of Ireland.
The blog Frank is referring to “No Northerners Need Apply” was published by me on April 16th 2012 and brought an almost immediate riposte from their well-organised PR department. A media person I met recently in Belfast told me he had read the blog and had enjoyed the article, so I will attach it here:
The headline looks appealing: win an InterRail trip for two to Euro 2012. Come on you boys in green! Iarnród Éireann is offering Ireland soccer fans the chance to win a trip to the European football championship, travelling overland from Ireland to Poland. The prize includes tickets for two to Ireland’s three Group games against Croatia, Spain and Italy, courtesy of North Dublin Schoolboys & Schoolgirls League and spending money of €1,000. The winner will be accommodated at a campsite at Poznan. Interested? Then all you have to do is to submit a sample blog post about a journey you have taken or a sporting event you have attended. Looks great. But I always believe in looking at the small print (terms and conditions). It seems that if you are an Ireland soccer fan from the six counties of Northern Ireland, then too bad, you can’t apply! Rule 3: “Applicants must be 18 years of age or over, and must be resident in the Republic of Ireland”. So if you are an Ireland fan from Newry, Portadown, Lurgan, Lisburn or Belfast, or perhaps a Derry City supporter following the club in the airtricity League, then sorry, you can’t apply, unless you happen to live in Donegal, Cavan. Monaghan or anywhere else in the Republic. This is a clear case of discrimination, where marketing people have not acknowledged the fact that hundreds of Ireland supporters are resident in some cases a few hundred yards across the border along the railway line between Dublin and Belfast. Yet they are not allowed to enter this competition. If you feel excluded then perhaps you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org and complain. But you need to do so immediately as the closing date for the competition is April 27th. Although I raised this matter with @IrishRail on twitter this morning I have not had any response. Sure I’m only a Northern Ireland resident and of course I would never use Iarnród Éireann or ever think about supporting Ireland as I did at Euro 1988 in Germany……
UPDATE: As the comments below show, the blog attracted a response within hours from Iarnród Éireann defending the terms and conditions for the competition. The issue was also taken up by other outlets including Slugger and BBC NI News website. After the response from the rail company, the following thought occurred. Their marketing experts in designing a competition for RoI residents ONLY did not take into account natives of counties along the border such as Monaghan who might follow their airtricity premier league team as well as the national side, but who happened to reside across the border eg in Aughnacloy, Ballygawley, Middletown or Roslea. I was therefore glad to see that a Monaghan and border region perspective was added by Frank McNally in An Irishman’s Diary in The Irish Times.