Saturday, 24 February 2007

Forgive and forget?


Today's track:
One Fine Day
(Madame Butterfly)
Puccini

I've always felt that the human race should be able to heal it's own wounds, patch things up, move on and stuff like that. Today provides us the chance to see just how good we are at it.

Ireland face England in Dublin this evening in what, in our house, will come as a pleasant distraction to the preparations for the move to Orkney.

Nothing unusual about that, I hear you say, England turn up for their drubbing at the hands of the gallant boys in green every year.

Well yes, but this year the game is at Croke Park, given that Lansdowne Road is being rebuilt. Now, if you've been paying any kind of attention to sports news over the last couple of weeks, you will know that the stadium - the fourth largest in Europe and built in a matter of a couple of years (take note Wembley) - is the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association and previously reserved only for Gaelic Football and Hurling. Foreign (or garrison) games were always banned.

The GAA were a central part of the Irish nationalist movement in the late 19th century and actively surpressed, along with the Irish language, by the British authorities.

Worse still, in 1920, as a retaliation for the killing of several British agents by Michael Collins' IRA death squads, the Royal Irish Constabulary killed 14 players and spectators in the first Bloody Sunday. Michael Hogan, captain of the Tipperary football team was one of the victims.

Now I have to be careful here, coming from Orange stock, but I know I'm not alone in feeling uneasy about seeing English players line up in front of the Hogan Stand singing God Save the Queen, with Hill 16 - the terrace built on rubble gathered in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising - to one side.

I know we should all be grown up about this and let bygones be bygones, but when so much remains unresolved in Ireland and crimes like the second Bloody Sunday have effectively been whitewashed by Britain, perhaps we should all take a trip to Dachau and wander around whistling the Horst Wessel.

That, I realise, is to overstate the case, and I sincerely hope that come 5.30 my only objection to England's anthem is that I don't much like the Royal Family, but I can understand why the issue has caused such a stir in Ireland.

2 comments:

Reg Pither said...

Have you any idea how offensive and annoying this post is to real people?
Sorry mate, but here are a few home truths for you. I'm not surprised you felt uncomfortable at hearing the British national anthem played at Croke Park - remind me again, what did your granddad do on Bloody Sunday in 1920? That is a bit different from saying you have Orange blood in the family.
Speaking for myself, I do not feel uncomfortable about the presence of Irish bars in places like Birmingham, Warrington, London or Manchester, the fact that Irish people are allowed into Hyde Park or you are allowed to mention the brave republican cause in towns like Enniskillen or Omagh. You see, I have moved on. Forgive and forget? How appropriate.
Your comments are typical of the Irish - made with a highly selective memory. "A few" soldiers murdered by the death squads prior to Bloody Sunday. Exactly the same number of Brits were murdered as were murdered in Croke Park and, before you say it, no, they were not in uniform - they were undercover intelligence officers. As for brave, heroic Michael Collins, who murdered him?
If the Irish were uncomfortable about the national athem (your anthem) being played at Croke Park, why stage the fucking game there and invite the English over to play? Aren't there other stadia on the Emerald Isle?
Finally, and this is the thing which really sticks in my craw, to compare the murder or 14 (Irish people OR BRITS) to the systematic annihilation of 6 million jews, gipsies, Russians and disabled people by the Nazis is just plain sick. Again, your selective memory seems to have kicked in. What a ridiculous comparison to make when the British spearheaded the fight against Hitler and the Nazis while the IRA were collaborators, hiding Nazi spies and smuggling guns for them. I imagine playing the Irish national anthem at Auschwitz would go down just as well as playing the German one.
Move on. Blind romanticism and propoganganda are for the uneducated.
Yours and still your pal (but an enraged one),

Reg Pither said...

....and another thing!
Bearing in mind the IRA's siding in WWII, do you think all republicans should feel "uncomfortable" when they hear the Irish national anthem played ANYWHERE in mainlaind Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Russia, the Far East or Scandinavia?
Bloody Sunday at Croke, 87 years ago (ignoring the prior slaughter of 14 British intelligence officers) - good old WWII 68 years ago, Birmingham c35 years ago, Warrington c20 years ago, London anytime in the last 30 years. Time to move on?
And what the fuck did ANYONE in the world do to deserve having fucking Terry Wogan, Val Doonican, The Nolan Sisters or Eamonn Holmes forced upon them? xxx