Well not quite representing the whole government…

A little addendum to that Croke Park ‘gesture’, that the British Government was considering… According to today’s Irish Times (subs needed), it would appear that it wasn’t quite all of the government:

Mr Hain confirmed in yesterday’s Irish Times that the British government was considering making a symbolic gesture to mark the killing of 14 civilians by British forces at Croke Park in 1920. He declined to speculate on the nature of a possible act of commemoration or if it might involve the laying of a wreath.

However, against a backdrop of rising unionist anger at the suggestion, Downing Street said yesterday: “First and foremost this is a rugby match, and we are not aware of any plans for any form of ceremony.” London sources also stressed that what was “paramount” were the wishes of the GAA and the IRFU. And they added: “The mere fact that the game is taking place where it is says all you need to know about the progress that has been made in Anglo-Irish relations in the past decade.”

There was also unconcealed irritation in Whitehall at Mr Hain’s suggestion that he looked forward to “backing Ireland to beat England” in the game, which he will attend as the representative of the British government.

  • confused

    “However, against a backdrop of rising unionist anger at the suggestion….”
    Now really, does the fact that the british government would like to “apologise” or shooting civilians really bother “unionists” that much that there has to be such a big bluster??
    Now what would make them so angry here?

  • Harris

    “Now what would make them so angry here?”

    Nothing should, from NORMAL people, but we’re talking about unionists here. Bigotry and hatred can be blinding!

  • The Third Policeman

    Holy Ghost there must be a few people at Whitehall with not enough work to do. Haha are we to believe that there are actually people running Britain who are angry that permatan Pete is backing Ireland over England!?

  • Yokel

    Aye Harris, don’t you worry about detail or nuance, stick to what you are good at kid…

    Hain is the king of gaffes right now and is showing himself up all over the place. Somebody in the government chain has asked questions and its not surprising that there is a reeling back. As it is, I suspect ‘it’ will go ahead go ahead in some shape ir form but be done with minimal fuss or publicity.

  • Harris

    Local Yokel

    I was addressing the absurdness of unionist anger over an apology.

    That is what the post is about, is it not?

    Do you feel unionists are right to be angry over a possible apology?

  • middle-class taig

    What would be so wrong with it? If Alex Maskey can lay a wreath to British servicemen, Britain’s most senior panjandrum in Ireland should be abkle to lay a wreath to innocents murdered by British servicemen.

    Got to love the British, happy to apologise for slavery and Shilpa Shetty, but coy on Bloody Sunday and Amritsar.

  • GavBelfast

    I wouldn’t be angry over an apology, I simply think that this would be tokenism at its most blatant. Why would Gaels appreciate such obvious tokenism as being sincere anyway, and how would it help?

    Also, this is the England team playing, not the UK, and it seems that royal guests will be missing (not not welcome), so maybe their absence is saying we’re sorry?

    Finally, when all said and done, it’s a game of rugby on ‘private’ property. No need for Hain or anyone else to hi-jack it.

  • middle-class taig

    Tokens can be very important. They establish a line of recognition and acceptance which cannot be re-crossed. It’s the first team representing a British nation to play at Croke. Recognition of the atrocity would be appropriate. Whether there is an apology or a token is not a big deal, but the fact that unionists have objected to the prospect is deeply worrying.

  • Aaron McDaid

    Please people, remember many unionists are quite happy with an apology, just not happy with it being linked to a rugby game involving England (not the UK). Find out exactly what the unionists are unhappy about before demonizing them. I myself would prefer an apology that had nothing to do with rugby, for example an apology from Blair in the Commons. Or maybe Hain laying a wreath on some day other than a rugby match day. Maybe Hain should attend a Gaelic match and lay a wreath.

    Why should the modern English RFU take be involved in the crimes of the old UK government?

    If nationalists are more accurate we might actually be able to identify and flush out the real bigots.

  • Diluted Orange


    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. The British government want to capitalise on the popularity of a sporting event to get some political capital out of it. Politics and sport should not mix.

    The only reason Hain wants to apologise now is so he gets the maximum publicity for it and a nice big glossy photo shoot: it’s all about image with New Labour. Why do they feel it’s necessary for them to apologise for something that they themselves weren’t responsible for. Ireland (the Republic) has moved on since the 1920’s and has a very good trading relationship with the UK; I’m pretty sure the people pushing for this aren’t from Dublin.

    The British government have had plenty of time, 85 years in fact, to apologise for Croke Park; the moment has passed. Why Croke anyway? What about Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, the invasion of Iraq, the Belgrano, the bombing of Dresden, Amritsar … the list goes on and on. By all means have an apology if people think it’s actually going to do any good. Personally, if someone says sorry to me I would prefer it not to be a hollow gesture and not to be so calculated and clinical that transparently its only purpose is to make the British government look good.