Hain’s presence at Croke Park is in itself a gesture

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain will become the first British Minister to attend Croke Park when he takes his seat for the upcoming Six Nations match against England. Speaking in the United States, he confirmed what has already been reported here, namely that the British government is considering making a symbolic gesture to mark the killing of 14 civilians by British security forces at the venue in 1920.”That’s being considered and discussed, the question of marking it. But my very presence there marks it. I’ve never been to Croke Park. I don’t think any other British secretary of state or cabinet minister has been there. That is marking it in itself. If people want me to do something else while I’m there, well then I’ll obviously think about it,” Mr Hain told The Irish Times (subs needed).

Hain wouldn’t say if the gesture would merely be his presence or whether it would stretch as far as laying a wreath in memory of the victims.

“The Taoiseach has invited me personally. The prime minister has asked me to go and I’ve changed my diary with some difficulty to attend. And I’m looking forward to it, backing Ireland to beat England,” he said.

Update: The Belfast Telegraph notes that the decision seems to have been made..

“The Government said today it has no plans to ceremoniously mark the upcoming historic rugby game at Croke Park between Ireland and England.”