Rory McIlroy has firmly nailed his colors to the post by accepting an MBE or Member of the British Empire award in the Queen's New Year honors list.

He and fellow Northern Ireland golfer Darren Clarke have been acknowledged in similar fashion by the Queen.

As a Protestant, Clarke would certainly have been expected to accept.

As a Catholic however, McIlroy will undoubtedly stir some resentment in nationalist circles over accepting the award.


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McIlroy has always tried to be non-political, a wise path in Northern Ireland, but by accepting the OBE it shows that he is leaning much more towards a British identity than an Irish one.

Most Northern Catholics will not accept a British award from the queen, while some will take it on an honorary basis.

This will have a practical application in the Olympics in 2016 where he will surely represent Great Britain rather than Ireland in the sport which will be making its Olympic comeback then.

Most people could give a fig about McIlroy's religious or political affiliation but the acceptance of the British award makes it clear that he himself considers himself primarily British.