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.”

  • Queens Unionist

    So South African born Hain is going to back Ireland against England.
    What a mix!
    Peter Hain is a man i never took a liking to.
    I dont know if its “previous” support for Irish Unity, previous used loosely or his other anti-unionist antics.
    Let him go there if he wants. I’ll not be attending if the GAA have any split of the gate receipts.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Can I have your ticket then?

  • Pete Baker

    George

    Hain’s mere presence at Croke Park is hardly a confirmation of what had been suggested.

    There’s an update to the suggestion of a ceremony here

    In short, as the Belfast Telegraph notes, 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.

  • Queens Unionist

    Yes most definitely, itll not be coming at face value though,
    **tout alert**

  • Oddly enough I’m making a ‘symbolic gesture’ about Hain right now.

  • Realist

    The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin have requested that this “symbolic gesture” event does not take place.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    I suggest you contact the IRFU and claim back the portion of the ticket price which goes to the GAA.

  • George

    Pete,
    I have put up what Hain is quoted as saying, namely a confirmation that the issue was considered. Nothing else is suggested on my part.

    From his quote, it seems that Hain is saying that his presence is a gesture in itself.

    Thanks for the Belfast Telegraph update, which I hadn’t seen. I was going on what today’s Irish Times reported Hain as saying.

    Was unaware that a British government spokesperson had since said a decision had been made.

  • fair_deal

    Is it just me or do commie sell-outs always achieve a degree of arrogance in their behaviour and comment that even a right-wing Monday Club nutjob would baulk at?

  • Queens Unionist

    “The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin have requested that this “symbolic gesture” event does not take place.”
    which guesture is this Karl Rove’s or PH’s?

    Oh ive jusat forgotten Tochais Síoraí I havent actaully purchased a ticket for the match. So much for the grab All Association taking a cut of my payment!

    🙂

  • Pete Baker

    George

    Hain’s attempt to portray his mere presence as some kind of ‘symbolic gesture’ is what I was criticising.

    It’s clearly a climb-down from the reported suggestion of a wreath laying ceremony and an apology.

    I appreciate you hadn’t seen the other more concrete reports on comments from the British government.. there’s a PA report too

  • George

    Pete,
    it would certainly explain why Hain all of a sudden thinks his very presence constitutes a gesture.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    fair_deal: “Is it just me or do commie sell-outs always achieve a degree of arrogance in their behaviour and comment that even a right-wing Monday Club nutjob would baulk at? ”

    Well, FD, it’s *not* just you.

  • Pete Baker

    George

    Far be it from me to suggest that Hain knows damn well it’s nothing of the sort.. ;o)

  • bpower

    The laying of a wreath would be a nice gesture to commemorate the victims of ’20, but an apology is ridiculous.
    What did he or any other citizen of the UK do wrong? Nothing. This business of saying “sorry” for something that some long dead people did to other dead people is farcical, it cheapens the idea of confession, forgiveness and redemption. You know, the good stuff.

  • Greenflag

    The laying of a wreath to commemorate the people massacred at Croke Park in 1920 would be a nice gesture by Mr Hain – but the return gesture of a comprehensive victory over England on the day would be preferable . Mr Hain should be made welcome . He’ll get a better welcome at Croker than Norn Irons prospective First Ayatollah would get in a million years.

    If it takes a South African of jewish background to get up the noses of the northern neanderthals then so be it . Listening to some of these whining Unionists complain about Peter Hain’s ‘arrogant ‘ at the same time as they go out and vote for Paisley just proves that ‘hypocrisy’ and some elements within ‘unionism’ are birds of a similar feather !

  • Harris

    Bpower

    “What did he or any other citizen of the UK do wrong? Nothing. This business of saying “sorry” for something that some long dead people did to other dead people is farcical, it cheapens the idea of confession, forgiveness and redemption. You know, the good stuff.”

    Yes, of course Hain didn’t do anything to the Irish people, but he represents a govt that did (though back in 1920), and that alone should be reason enough for an apology.

    To arrogantly storm the grounds of Croke Park and use their military might to kill completley innocent civillians (and one player), deserves some sort of apology. The brits have been given a free ride for far too long on these matters.

  • parcifal

    I wonder if Peter Hain would consider standing in the Republic’s Election this summer, and becoming a TD.
    Which constituency would be best to go for, any ideas?

  • harpo

    ‘to kill completley innocent civillians (and one player)’

    Harris:

    Is there some way to kill people incompletely?

    ‘Yes, of course Hain didn’t do anything to the Irish people, but he represents a govt that did’

    Each British government is unique. Thus what a Churchill led government did at some point in time is not the responsibility of the current Blair government. They were different governments.

    On this subject, should the current ROI government apologize for the actions of previous Irish governments?

  • Greenflag

    Assuming he prefers to stay within the Labour party fold albeit the Irish Labour Party instead of the British Labour Party he would be in for a ‘psychological shock’ . Here in the Republic we have the Irish Labour Party looking to reduce taxes as part of their election strategy . The Rabbit has run out of salad and smoked salmon obviously and has now become more PD than the PD’s themselves . This is obviously part of Irish Labour’s plan to outflank SF on the left by attacking the PD’s from the right ?

    The crucial question now for the Irish Labour Party is will they need more than two or just the one taxi to take the newly elected TD’s to Dail Eireann so that they can watch goggle eyed as the Bertie & Brian show prepares to spend 187 billion on the National Development Plan.

    As to constituency ? Tough call . Monaghan or Louth would be handy. He could mix his constituency work with his time in NI by returning to Wales via Dublin . No problem to the double jobber to increase the workload by 50% ?

  • parcifal

    lol greenflag

  • Harris

    Harpo

    “Is there some way to kill people incompletely?”

    Read what I said, Boyo. I said “to kill COMPLETELY INNOCENT civillians.”

    “Each British government is unique. Thus what a Churchill led government did at some point in time is not the responsibility of the current Blair government. They were different governments.”

    Very true, but no govt since 1920 has ever remotely apologized for their brutal treatment of those innocent civillians. We’re not talking about ALL of the brutal treatment since then, just that event!

    “On this subject, should the current ROI government apologize for the actions of previous Irish governments?”

    If the Irish govt comitted brutal, heinous crimes against others, then yes, the current ROI govt should apologize for those previous crimes.

    But I can’t think of any at the moment, can you?

  • Patrique

    Magdalan laundry, transporting children (orphans) to Australia until the 1960s,Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor,Liam McKelvey et al, just of the top of my head.

    And stealing millions of pounds from the public purse, thereby creating poverty, how much time have I?

  • bpower

    Harris,
    OK, sometimes it worthwhile but only when there’s still people who think that the event didn’t take place or was not a bad event in the first place.

    For example if the Turkish government apologised for “Armenian Holocaust”, that would be meaningful. When Germany apologised for the Holocaust, that was meaningful. The Japanese have a few to make as well because there’s a lot of people in Japan that think they were the good guys in WWII.

    Is there anybody in the UK who thinks that the murders in Croke Park didn’t happen or that the victims got what they deserved? Is there some relative out there demanding that the events of that day be acknowledged as a crime?

    I’m guessing no to both.

    I see little difference between your attitude and Paisley’s when he made his sack cloth and ashs remark. Its all about your own gratification.

    Greenflag,
    “Here in the Republic we have the Irish Labour Party looking to reduce taxes as part of their election strategy.”

    Its a little disingenuous to leave out the fact that the lowest paid workers in the country will be the ones receiving the tax cut. I know you’re just ranting, but I wanted to point that out.

  • Greenflag

    Harris ,

    ‘Read what I said, Boyo. I said “to kill COMPLETELY INNOCENT civillians.”

    Harpo does not read-he reacts or kneejerks, depending on how frozen his canadian igloo is at any one time . He occassionally delivers some goods worth a ponder but on this occassion Harpo did’nt just miss the ball .

    For some people and I regret having to say this, if you have the temerity to be Irish you’re already guilty -if you’re Republican guiltier still and if an SF or GAA supporter, then judge or jury are a waste of time – just send in the Black & Tans /B Specials etc. It appears that this mentality among Unionists in NI is less than it was but don’t kid yourself -it is still there .

    Anyway for Mr Hain to apologise for the British Army’s massacre of their own civilians on that awful day is to admit that that particular Government was wrong. It does not reflect poorly on the present British Government .On the contrary it does the opposite . It could be seen as a quid pro quo for the GAA gesture and enable everyone British and Irish to move on . As an aside did’nt a recent British Government apologise for the Peterloo massacre ?

    Of course for those Northern Unionists who believe that the Black & Tans in 1920 should have shot even more innocent civilians dead and the British Army should have shot more dead on Bloody Sunday any move by any British Government to admit ‘wrong doing’ is seen as reflecting badly on those who support the British Government in Northern Ireland – namely Unionists .

    ‘If the Irish govt comitted brutal, heinous crimes against others, then yes, the current ROI govt should apologize for those previous crimes. ‘

    Agreed. Let’s hope they never have to 🙂

  • blandy

    lets see the republic’s government apologise for the following:

    – collin’s arms shipments north post treaty

    – expansionist and inflammatory statements and constitutions by develera, fomenting northern mistrust & instability and ultimately contributing to the northern troubles.

    – the activities of haughey et al, both shipping arms and working to bring about the ira split – thereby inflicting a more militant and vicious terror campaign on ni just as the official ira were moving to a political path. These goings on were were fully known to the irish pm of the day, hence haughey et al’s aquittal (the prosecution could not prove they were acting contrary to the state!!)

    – Numerous 20’s ira massacres whose particants were gladly accepted into state bodies such as the garda & army.

  • Aaron McDaid

    The crime on that day was quite heinous and clearly something that should be apologised for. But as the decision makers on the day are probably no longer with us, we’re left with the question as to whether the current government can/should apologise for it. However, no matter what you think it’s hard to see what it has to do with a rugby game between Ireland and England. It’s a matter between the UK government and the Irish people.

    Hain should make an appearance on the day before with his UK government hat on and lay a wreath or whatever. That way, it can quite rightly be seperated from the rugby.

    Also, in the context of the rugby, Hain will be supporting Ireland (rightly so), not opposing them, so surely he’s in no position to apologise on behalf of anyone. Another reason to seperate this from the rugby.

  • cynic

    ” From his quote, it seems that Hain is saying that his presence is a gesture in itself”

    What’s the gesture he’s suggesting?

    1 thanks for the free ticket Bertie or

    2 this week I have apologised for slavery and a 1920’s massacre of Irish people. That’s two more boxes ticked in the lexicon of labour left wing causes (pre 1997 edition). Giss a job, Gordon.

    Don’t kid yourselves that there is some high minded or wider altruistic political purpose here.

  • BeardyBoy

    FD

    Commies – no it is not just you – they are not liberal as they try and make out – they are authoritarian nutcases

  • againstthehead

    so if SF become the leading party in Northern Ireland or indeed the government of the south, should they aplogise for their role in the slaughter of hundreds of innocents in Ireland? Or do they get immunity?

    Hypocrisy you say? what a joke

  • Hill16FantasticView

    “so if SF become the leading party in Northern Ireland or indeed the government of the south, should they aplogise for their role in the slaughter of hundreds of innocents in Ireland? Or do they get immunity?”

    Yes they should apologise for innocents that were killed. Has anyone here said outright that they shouldn’t.

    Now answer this, should any unionist in political office that was involved in arms shipment apologise for that. Same accusation levelled at the certain irish poiliticians in the 70’s.

    Blandy, you seem to have no trouble looking for an apology for something which your representatives were also up to their neck in so why bring that point up except to deflect from the fact that the Irish governements army (not the IRA), has never been involved in the slaughter of innocent civilians. Can you say the reputation of the British army is completely untarnished?

    As for the original point, a gesture to the memory of those killed would be appreciated. The only apology needed is to the surviving relatives of those killed. No more than that.

  • Harris

    Bland

    As I daid, if previous Irish govt’s brutally and heinously KILLED others, then there should be an apology.

    I think all would agree that, moving guns to the north is hardly on the scale of an occupiers military killing completley unarmed and innocent civillians. Yes?

  • Greenflag

    Aaron McDaid ,

    Good post -I agree . It makes sense to separate the England /Ireland rugby game from the 1920 massacre.

  • Niall

    If the British Government want to make a gesture let them do it, but not at an emotive rugby match attended by 80,000 people. It all seems a little ‘sackcloth and ashes’ from the nationalist side.

    It also begs the question, why now? Because it’s an opportunistic PR moment, rather than a heartfelt hands-up. If they commemorate those events, when will they stop/be allowed to stop/should stop.

    If they do want to atone, they should really apologise for the complete occupation of Ireland. This focussing in on a particular incident could actually be perceived to give credence to the occupation of Ireland, as they are admitting that the actions of that day in 1920 were an isolated ‘mistake’. The logic is that everything else they did was just dandy.

    Nationalists should not welcome any maudlin, tawdry commemoration of this sort, never mind holler for it.

  • Harris on Feb 15, 2007 @ 06:07 PM wrote “ Yes, of course Hain didn’t do anything to the Irish people, but he represents a govt that did (though back in 1920), and that alone should be reason enough for an apology. To arrogantly storm the grounds of Croke Park and use their military might to kill completley innocent civillians (and one player), deserves some sort of apology. The brits have been given a free ride for far too long on these matters. “

    A free rise for 87 years. And the victims of the 1974 Dublin Monaghan Bombings, also committed by the British soldiers / agents, over thirty years ago will only have to wait another 50 years for a gesture.

    If Bertie is sitting with his close friend Hain, he might ask about the developments on his request for further info as a result of the Barron Inquiry. Actually, while Hain is walking to the game he’ll be passing close enough to Talbot street and with a good search he just might be able to almost find a shite little memorial to the worst British atrocity in the RoI since independence – nothing like down-playing a pathetic non-response by Garrett & CCOB in the Cosgrave govt at the time.