Can sport heal old wounds (or enflame them)?

The third of three parties to our A Long Peace? document of 2003, Trevor Ringland had a piece in the Observer yesterday, extolling the capacity of sport to “sustain relationships when others were destroying them”. Yet it would be hard to dissuade anyone who had read our international soccer threads from thinking that, in fact, sport leads to precisely the opposite outcome: i.e. mutual loathing between local rival supporters. Of course, in Rugby occasional tempests between north and south are kept in-house (and not always in the healthiest of ways). In soccer, the relatively recent success of the Republic’s team has exercised a pull on fans from Northern Ireland, and is even beginning to draw players too, which appears to challenge this notion that sport can heal wounds, even as it doles them out on the pitch.

But Ringland argues that the on-the-ground work can make a real difference:

Much has been achieved already. Belfast Harlequins RFC share their ground with St Bridget’s GAA and Ballymena RFC with the Antrim hurlers. Linfield Football Club have opened up their training pitch for use by a camogie GAA team and Teemore Gaelic club have signed up to the One Small Step [no, not this one] campaign.

A simple notion embraced by all sports – rugby, football, Gaelic and others – is that they represent all the people whether it be playing for the county, province or country. A simple gesture but one that many respond to. It pulls people out of the trenches.

It remains an open question as to whether this bottom up approach is enough to deal with the top down pressures of success/failure that have help to condition the levels of conflict within the soccer code. Irish soccer survives in a fairly fragile ecology. Prior to 1982, only Northern Ireland had managed to claw their way to the finals of a major international tournament, and poaching and swapping players was common. In a poorer commons, conflicts of interest are likely to be all the sharper.

Niall Quinn may have put his finger on something two years ago when he highlighted a key difference between the two codes:

I think the Setanta Cup has been great. At least we are exploring. We didn’t for a long time, and the Setanta Cup seems to be getting more and more backing.

I’m on the Irish Sports Council andwe’re looking at ways of getting involved for next year’s competition. It may be that that’s the route through which we discover each other. It’s as if there’s an imaginary football wall with another stadium that side and we’re playing this side. Maybe the more cross border games that are played the more we understand each other.

That’s what happens in rugby. The teams from Ulster come down here and play club matches all the time. So they are shuffling and crossing all the time, whereas in football it’s only trickling at the moment. But if that’s the best way forward that might lead to young teams getting together.

Judging by the regular inter-fan flaming on Slugger, we have a long way to go.

  • I can’t help but be reminded of this classic statement of the case for the prosecution.

  • kensei

    “A simple notion embraced by all sports – rugby, football, Gaelic and others – is that they represent all the people whether it be playing for the county, province or country. A simple gesture but one that many respond to. It pulls people out of the trenches.”

    The problem in football is that it precisely doesn’t do this, because NI doesn’t represent a lot of Nationalists and the Republic definitely doesn’t represent Unionists. The problem is less “mutual loathing”, than “mutual contempt”, which is sadly much worse and the football threads really bring it out.

  • true kensei, football always brings up the vexed question of identity, which in turn brings up irredentism ( a person advocating the restoration to their country of any territory formerly belonging to it ) which in turn brings out all the innate irate irascibility beneath the fragile peace.
    Perhaps we need some iridescent thinking, which comes from the Latin (irid.. meaning rainbow ) and means : showing luminous colors when seen from different angles.

  • Ok lets cut to the chase here before we get all of the usual patronising nonsense about the two Irish International football teams, because threads such as this inevitably raise wider issues and we have to deal with them im afraid.

    The reason why the football threads are so contentious is because the situation with football here is totally different to either GAA or Rugby. We do not have separate international teams representing Rugby or GAA.

    Following an international team anywhere in the world is as much about national identity as sport. Thats why the vast majority of Nationalists in the North choose to follow The Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland.

    (ie the thought of going to Windsor Park to support a team whose National Anthem is God Save The Queen, whose fans sing songs about British World War 2 Bombers (Dambusters theme) and tribal chants such as “Ulster till I die”, is totally alien to people like myself and always will be). However I respect the right of those people to do that, I just expect the same respect for my rights to follow the other national team on this island).

    The ironic thing about many posters on this forum is that many are from the comfortable (but equally detached) middle-classes and they just love to take the moral high ground whilst conveniently forgetting that, enshrined within the very Core of The Good Friday Agreement, was the right of anyone here to regard themselves as being either Irish or British depending on their cultural and/or political identity.

    The same agreement also enshrined the right for those views and beliefs to be respected by all.

    It is often the middle classes (on either side) who actually show the most disrespect of all by branding anyone who expresses either Nationalist or Unionist opinions as being sectarian. In doing so they ignore the very agreement that many of them would claim to hold dear…

  • ND

    But in the football threads there is perhaps more surprisingly many examples of mutual respect.

    As you have said Kensei I am not represented by NI (or don’t feel I am, whatever) and yet I will say the result of my countrymen is the 2nd I look for.

    It’s obvious from outside NI that there is a shared love of many sports across the island that does bring people together and this has increased to a huge decree during the peace so Trevor Ringland is right.

    Football is different though is it possible a unified league will arrive and lead to a unified team. A unified professional league would surely see teams doing well in europe? Biggest losers would be the gaa and rugby. (and of course plc’s in manchester, liverpool, london and glasgow)

  • IJP

    Mick

    Instinctively I’m not sure I accept the premise, either way.

    I don’t think sport furthers mutual contempt or loathing, I think it represents it. A quick different thing.

    macswiney

    Not sure I accept the premise there either.

    The Agreement entitles one to a British or Irish identity, and to respect of that identity. (It also requires one to respect the other identity, which is the bit too many people choose to forget.)

    But that is quite different from ‘Unionist’ or ‘Nationalist’ identity. Those are political designations. Those from opposing political designations and viewpoints are perfectly entitled to challenge them.

  • Alan Anderson

    im stickin to the line”together were better” what divides Irish tribes is alot less than that of nations that work well together across the world, Its time for us to all grow up and look at the illogicality of two national teams where one nation exists, by that i do not mean disrespect to Unionisim, but that Unionisim is integral to Ireland and Ireland integral to unionisim and infact Ulster/Irish unionisim very unique to Ireland, Very distinctly Irish. Our nation is not of one or two but of many colours, and it will be all the better for it whenever we get bored whinging like 4 year olds who lost der lolly pop 800 years ago.

    Yes sporting unity works case in point IRFU, Cricket, GAA ,Hockey, Athletics(to a point), to be fair if it unites I like our national anthem but i would gladly drop it if it caused one man to stumble.

  • IJP,

    You are missing my point.

    There is no difficulty with people having the right to challenge political beliefs, however it is truly nauseating when many choose to use every thread to covertly imply that people who are either proudly nationalist or unionist are therefore sectarian.

    My knowledge and experience of the backgrounds of many posters on this forum is that those who are most guilty of this attitude are from the self styled “middle-ground” of local politics. ie those who feel free to pontificate on just about every subject, without ever having the courage to fully describe,justify or even explain what their own actual beliefs are.

    Such is their right, but i will not have them labelling me (or others) as being in some way sectarian because we are proud of our identity(s) and seek to defend our beliefs.

  • kensei

    IJP

    “I don’t think sport furthers mutual contempt or loathing, I think it represents it. A quick different thing.”

    I don’t think that it’s quite that clear cut. I think your right in that it brings out that which is already there, but I think it’s also perfectly capable of making things worse at the same time, even simply by presenting an opportunity.

  • The Penguin

    Sport is war by other means. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself.

    Never mind national teams, the mutual loathing between football club sides – in any country you care to name – bears testament to that.
    There are lesser degrees of this loathing, and sometimes not, in every sport.

    The beauty of sport is that it is war which doesn’t entail loss of life (normally).

  • ND

    Mick,

    So that’s a vote for healing of wounds from me.

    Alan,

    Agree about dumping the anthem. Flag of Green White and Orange followed by an anthem in Irish….. no sense does this a make. As for Irish Unionism becoming the dynamic it should always have been all over the island, i wish.

    MacSwiney,

    What you say about yourself I can easily identify with, what you are trying to say about the topic I don’t get, sorry.

    What is ironic?

    Cutting to the chase, sport source of hope or not/not really either way?

  • Alan Anderson

    ND, (dumping is a bit strong, replace is nicer we have to be diplomatic in all things) Personally the tricolour couldnt be a fairer symbol of peace and i would dislike to ever see such an aspiration “dropped” but if a better flag represnting peace between community lines can be designed I would be for it. You have to understand in NI the tricolour has been very misrepresented and has is tainted to those not familiar with the roots of the tricolour.

    Irelands call is a satisfactory anthem for the time being.

    I do believe Irish-Ulster unionisim is unique to Ireland its to be found virtualy nowhere in Britain(except tiny pockets of NI ex-pats) so even unionisim is alot more Irish than it would like to let on.

  • The Spectator

    It is often said of players, but applies equally to fans.

    “Sport does not build character. It reveals it.”

    This is neither a good thing, not a bad thing. The moral virtue in revealing character depends frankly entirely on the character beign revealed.

    One can no more blame sport for the existence of sectarianism than one can blame the steam for the existance of the kettle.

    The reality in this place is fairly simple. while sectarianism is widespread throughout class and creed, like other anti-social behavious it tends to find its most notable, violent and unpleasent outlets in poorer urban communities.

    Its as true here as it is anywhere else in the anglosphere.

    And poorer urban communities, by and large, support soccer more than rugby (rather more middle class) and gaelic games (rather more rural).

    In addition, there can be no doubt that the existance of two seperate and competing national teams and organisations provides totems for that bias; but as I said earlier, simply because the FAI/IFA devide reveals sectarianism does not mean it causes it; by extension I have strong doubts a united soccer team would heal many wounds – we cannot enforce collegiate feeling – if we manage mutual respect and a hint of friendliness it would be a start!

  • Rory

    I’m not so sure about this. While I can watch and sometimes enjoy an occassional rugby match on television in the comforts of my home, I could never envisage drinking with any of the players or supporters, much less, heaven forfend, having them round to supper. As for my daugther marrying one…….

  • Never mind national teams, the mutual loathing between football club sides – in any country you care to name – bears testament to that.

    There are lesser degrees of this loathing, and sometimes not, in every sport.

    Quite; England v Scotland, Holland v Germany, Croatia v Bosnia (this game provoked three days of inter-communal rioting in Mostar a couple of years ago) are just three examples of this “mutual loathing” mention earlier, so really, we aren’t on our own here folks; in fact compared to those just mentioned, our rivalry is rather tame

    I’m also not at all convinced that the majority of NI fans would not rather beat the England than the Republic and apart from a few pathological obsessive internet warriors, do the majority ROI fans who live in Northern Ireland really, really care how well or badly NI as a team do? I sincerely doubt it, the fans who live in the Republic certainly couldn’t give a tinker’s curse about us.

    Of course, it’s still all good fun winding each other up (ohhh…the middle-class Alliance boys won’t like that, but it’s true). I’ve spent most of the day hiding from the same ROI fans whom I was serenading with tuneful 5-2s after their Cyprus holiday earlier on in the campaign, but it’s exactly the same thing every other Monday with our club teams and as long as it stays within the boundaries of healthy disrespect, I really can’t see any harm in it.

    Cutting to the chase, sport source of hope or not/not really either way?

    Not really either way, sport is sport and if you want to cure the core problems in our society you’ll be needing to a bit more than just making sure we all support the same team, singing Kumbia and eating our prawn sarnies together.
    Whatever did happen to the Belfast Giants by the way?

  • No Dozer

    Macswiney
    I totally agree with evrything you have said.

    Alan Anderson
    I would say that the tri-colour has been more than tainted by what has happen in our country over the last 30 years or more. Yes and likewise wih the union flag.It ( tricolour) will never be acceptable to working class unionists.

    What exactly have all Ireland teams in middle class games like rugby, cricket and hockey ever won? As far as i can see nothing. I think the all ireland bowling team have won a few championships and they use the Cross of St. Patrick as their flag.

    It will take generations for the hurt that has been felt in working class communities to go away so the chances of an all Ireland football team coming about soon is zero.

  • Dewi

    Rory – your daughter courting ? !!!

  • Chris Donnelly

    Trevor’s piece is a good one, highlighting the many positive consequences of sporting initiatives- as one lucky enough to have worked with the Peace Players during the Spring, I can tell you Trevor’s spot on in recognising how positive sporting energy can produce heart-warming outcomes.

    The football threads on Slugger have often narrowed in focus to a verbal sparring session primarily due to what I believe is a mutual fear by unionists and nationalists that identities are being challenged/ under threat- in this sense, the football threads bear little difference to many other threads (hence the reason many northern fans react angrily to calls for a unified team for the island and why northern fans of the Republic have reacted with anger to the IFA’s attempts to prevent them representing their country.)

    That said, some very interesting and positive contributions can be found on such threads, if one is willing to scroll through the diatribes.

    Niall Quinn may be right about the Setanta Cup providing a bridge to better soccer relations on the island. In the meantime, respecting our different football preferences, as opposed to ridiculing and/ or challenging the legitimacy of such allegiances, will go a long way to taking the heat out of the football rows.

    Incidentally, wind-up merchants were clearly in action at the weekend. In Brataslava, a UVF flag could clearly be seen prominently displayed on the half-empty terraces amongst the Slovak fans, whilst at least one tricolour was to be seen amidst the Latvian fraternity in Riga.

    If we get to the stage where everyone is genuinely delighted at two sets of Irishmen playing in a European Champsionships tournament, then we will have made a good start.

  • IJP

    Kensei

    Yes, I would accept your 4.43PM amendment.

    I don’t really accept either premise fully, that’s the point.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    I think that we should have the vision to move several steps forward and adopt the flag and anthem of Poland. Many of the canny tradesmen have already started advertising in languages other than Ulster Scots already. On the streets you can hear more Polish than Irish. The Catholic Church has welcomed non-nationals??? with open arms and provided pastors. So let’s go Polish while we are still in the majority.Some of my best friends are Polish and my daughter is courting one.

  • caulfield

    Chris Donnelly
    Totally agree. There are already plenty of people who can support both national teams. I will always support NI first but the ROI are second.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    ……and another thing. I accept that us straw chewing rural types are not the brightest but I can’t get my head round how the province can be a nation when it’s not even a country.

  • “us straw chewing rural types are not the brightest”

    Apparently not, or you wouldn’t even bother with that sort of nonsense. It’s been done to death, grow up.

  • páid

    All the same, I detect a cooling of passions.

    For NI v ROI. remember that night in 1992 with Kernaghan and all?

    Or remember Belfast Celtic.

    The Old Firms games are down in temperature.

    Linfield play Drogheda and pints in the bar afterwards.

    The only thing that gets punched these days is a keyboard.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Agree with sentiments that the football thread has degenerated into another bickering thread.

    Perhaps the newly proposed ‘Celtic cup’ might just be a success. Gordon Smith the new SFA man seems to be on board.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Keek! Sorry for widening the page so, but have not got a clue how to shorten links.

  • Pounder

    Looking beyond football there are plenty of other sports. The aforementioned Belfast Giants, no sectarianism there as far as I know. Then there is ofcourse Rugby and Cricket, two teams that have enjoyed much cross community support recently. Plus don’t forget Belfasts own Dave ‘Fit’ Finlay one of the WWE’s top performers.

    One of my fondest sporting memories involves rugby and football. I was at a Glentoran versus Cliftonville match, the same day as a 5 nations match between Ireland and England. At half time when Radio Ulster announced that Ireland where hammering England a huge cheer went up on all sides followed by a stunned silence that both sides managed to agree on something.

  • mnob

    Hold on a minute. This thread is a perfect example of how sport cannot unite a disunited people.

    Lots of mutual back slapping and nodding on this thread – but read it properly and theres an undercurrent that all island sports = good, seperate orgnaisations/teams = bad.

    Its a classic example of seeing what you want to see. All the sports organised on all island basis (which is generally because they were formed in a british context (small b) before partitiion) are perceived as ‘good’ and soccer is pulled out as the one ‘bad’ example.

    Tell me this – how inclusive is GAA ?

    Theres an inherent political bias in all of this and nationalist prejudices are coming out.

    Why exactly is a model combining two juristictions more *logical* than seperate teams for the two ? (Note the emphasis on the logic – I’ve lived on this island long enough to know the emotional arguments).

    It’s your political bias which is shaping this – nothing more – nothing less.

  • mnob

    …. and yes I understand that my political views shape my thinking on this subject.

    I’m not saying anyone is right or wrong just pointing out that logic and moral superiority dont come into it.

  • Have to agree with mnob.

    Aside from anything else there are large swathes of people from both sides who feel no affinity to the Ireland rugby team either because it’s a “Republic of Ireland + a few Nordies” team or because it’s a Rugby (foreign games) team. Perhaps more of the former?

  • Pounder

    If it works and breaks down the barriers whats the problem. If I cheer on Irelands Rugby or Cricket team am I an less a citizen of Northern Ireland or am I automatically a nationalist? I wouldn’t think so myself. Is it the best solution? No, but it is progress something that many of the unionist side of the divide seem terrified of. God forbid that you’d actually have to spend some leisure time in the company of a few taigs.

  • Sport can only unite if it can rise above politics, and when any sport has large numbers of fans it seems this is very difficult. Many fans have begun to notice that Northern Ireland’s recent success has brought back a few of the knuckle-draggers they thought they’d rid themselves of for good.

    Belfast Giants are not a good example. Once the novelty wore off, nobody cared.

    Rugby is not a good example IMHO (even if it may be the best one).

    Football is trying hard but finding the going difficult and GAA we’ll not even go into.

    Not sure about cricket. Again it’s got such a small number of real hardcore supporters here (and “there”).

  • “God forbid that you’d actually have to spend some leisure time in the company of a few taigs.”

    Catch yourself on.

  • mnob

    Pounder so all Island sports is ‘progress’ is it ?

    Progress towards what ?

    Tell me this – are nationalists ‘terrified’ of seperate teams, or UK teams ?

  • No Dozer

    The newsletter rugby correspondent Richard Bullick was asked recently what advantages there were in having an All ireland team. The arrogant buffoon said something like ” watching Ireland beat England at Twickers”. He then went on to deride Ulster Scots saying that it was only a counter culture and not comparable to the real culture of the island of ireland. I expect anti English comments from rebublicans but it is sad when a so called unionist stoops to this racist crap.

    Republicans have been saying the same for years and the anti Unionist brigade are out in force again telling us what we should believe in and who we should be supporting.

    The arrogance of these people is breathtaking. Take off your green, white and orange glasses and realise that the unionist working class are not as easily fooled as those nice middle class people who follow rugby and who are treated as second citizens by their Dublin masters.

  • kensei

    “Pounder so all Island sports is ‘progress’ is it ?

    Progress towards what ?

    Tell me this – are nationalists ‘terrified’ of seperate teams, or UK teams ? ”

    Progress towards everyone getting along. The advantages of All Ireland teams are that everyone can support them, rather than the football situation which fractures into Nationalists and Unionists supporting different teams. And if you are really, really interested in keeping NI, that type of division does you no favours at all.

    Not afraid of separate teams in the slightest. If Unionists forced a split in rugby, I’d be saddened but in the long run ignore it and continue watching Ireland, just like in football.

  • kensei

    ND

    “Republicans have been saying the same for years and the anti Unionist brigade are out in force again telling us what we should believe in and who we should be supporting.”

    Unionists have a wonderful habit of telling Nationalists in football threads that they must support the NI, and be happy about it, what, what.

    So, glass houses and all there.

  • Charlie

    macswiney –
    “It is often the middle classes (on either side) who actually show the most disrespect of all by branding anyone who expresses either Nationalist or Unionist opinions as being sectarian. In doing so they ignore the very agreement that many of them would claim to hold dear… “
    But what about the countless Irish prod, catholic or dissenting sports fans from across the social strata who prefer to see past the Unionist versus Nationalist schism (which you seem perfectly happy with) and simply delight in seeing Irish success in the sporting arena whether its Northern Ireland beating Spain in the soccer or Padraig Harrington’s success in golf??

    Far too many contributors to Slugger seem obsessed with attributing Unionism or Nationalism to a team/sportsman rather than celebrating Irish sporting success and I for one feel entitled to feel thoroughly depressed and sickened by their myopic attitude…

  • Malachian

    macswiney

    As a catholic who attends NI internationals I agree there are still issues which I would like to see remedied or at least addressed, however “the theme from the Dambusters” comes pretty low on any list. Visiting German, Austrian, and possibly Leichtenstein fans may think otherwise.

    I am even more convinced in this in light of yesterdays news that it was the Luftwaffe who were responsible for the much needed repairs to St Malachys in Alfred St.

  • Malachian,

    You are comfortable with the Dambusters theme but you conveiently fail to mention ‘God Save The Queen’ as the anthem of your team. Clearly you are comfortable with that, whereas the vast majority on Catholics/Nationalists cannot abide that.

    Also, it essentially boils down to how we pereceive our Nationality. There are over 350,000 Irish Passport holders living in the North according to official Irish Government statistics. The vast majority of my community support the Republic of Ireland because our team represents the island as a whole. (As magnificently demonstarted by the support that Darren Gibson has received across the country, including The Irish government). I am a block booking holder and have followed The Mighty Boys in Green proudly all over the world.

    PS : Hope you enjoyed the renditions of The Sash in Riga. Must have made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up….

  • malachian

    macswiney

    lighten up

    I said there were issues still to be remedied. Behaviour of all fans at away matches is harder to regulate than at a home venue and unfortunately all fans will not behave well on a volountary basis.
    What did make me feel uneasy was the FAI having a minutes silence for Princess Diana in their first match after the event, but failing to honour the dead at Loughinisland in a simalar way.
    I am an Irish pasport holder and a nationalist, but I feel less uneasy at Windsor, than I would as a Republican sitting in Stormont administering British rule.

  • No Dozer

    Kensei

    I have no problem with nationlists supporting the Republic as long as they allow me and people like the same freedom to support N.I.

    Did republicans not cause the split in football?

    How can everybody give their support to an “ireland” team (rugby) when the flag and anthem issue has not been sorted and respect shown to unionists by the I.R.F.U.?

    Charlie

    Don’t be to depressed about things. Not every unionist hates all things Irish. I personally witnessed in Newtownards where I live in 1990, a bar full of what can be only described as football loving unionists/ loyalists cheering on the republic in the world cup. Don’t be shocked but I was one of them. We also cheered for Barry Mcguigan, and some of my friends went to America to cheer him on. A former school friend rode for Ireland. He was a fantastic show jumper. His mother used to wash his gear which had tri-colours on it and hang it out on the line much to the amusement of their neighbours.

    I personally have no problem with the republic. I have great friends in the republic, but I don’t want to an irish republican nor do I want to live there. I don’t have any love for the tricolour or the S.S. and am sick of being told that it represents me. It doesn’t.

    Norman Whiteside talks about being called an orange bastard while playing for utd. against Bohemians by so called supporters of that club. What sort of welcome would they give to the rest of us if their was an all ireland team?

  • mnob

    “Progress towards everyone getting along. The advantages of All Ireland teams are that everyone can support them, rather than the football situation which fractures into Nationalists and Unionists supporting different teams.”

    OK so we can all get along as long as we play by nationalist rules.

  • Alan Anderson

    mnob- it was never a unionist dream that Ireland be fractured either, I believe if more sports well all Ireland nationalists would warm to home nations competitions, commonwealth games etc…

    You see not everything has an overtly political agenda. And im down with lifing sport out of the political arena particularly when its as 2 dimentional as the NI political arena.

  • mnob

    Alan – I’m not arguing against it.

    All island teams in a british context actually pose more difficulties to nationalists than unionists.

    e.g. take the elephant in the room, the most feted all island team (rugby) which was :

    – set up before partition
    – has Ireland as a ‘home’nation
    – is part of a British Isles context where players for the ‘home’ teams represent the islands on tour (and has only recently had the tag ‘and Irish’ added).

    All of this is no issue to an Irish Unionist – but a complete funk for an Irish Nationalist.

  • No Dozer

    Alan

    Maybe if nationlists took their flag and anthem out off sport and allowed a flag and anthem which has not tainted by violent republicans to be used, and maybe working class unionists who suffered the most during the dark days of the troubles from republicans, might just warm to it.

    Why when the “ireland” rugby team are officially using the 4 provinces flag as their flag ( which is progress) do supporters of the team in France still need to flaunt the tricolour?

    All Ireland sporting teams are not going heal the wounds of the last few decades. It is only mutual respect of each others beliefs, cultures,politics and parity of esteem for flags and emblems which will lead to trust between unionists and nationlists. This is something which the I.R.F.U. as a sporting body needs to realise along twith the G.A.A. and all the other sporting bodies on the island.

  • kensei

    “OK so we can all get along as long as we play by nationalist rules.”

    Nope, it’s just that separate teams are incapable of uniting everyone here. You are welcome to try, I just don’t see it working.

    ND

    “Why when the “ireland” rugby team are officially using the 4 provinces flag as their flag ( which is progress) do supporters of the team in France still need to flaunt the tricolour? ”

    Because that is the Ireland that represents them. there should be no problem with them bringing tricolours, just as there should be no problem with you bringing a Stormont Flag. Or someone else bringing the 4 provinces flag (which I really like, btw). Problems should only arise when one of those options are prevented. Otherwise you are using your Irishness to try and deny someone else’s.

    I have some sympathy on the anthem issue too btw – though in that case I think Ireland’s Call should be sufficient everywhere. The official body should be neutral but the fans should be able to bring what they like.

  • iluvni

    I am an Irish pasport holder and a nationalist, but I feel less uneasy at Windsor, than I would as a Republican sitting in Stormont administering British rule.

    Posted by malachian on Sep 11, 2007 @ 03:42 PM

    1-0, you win
    lol!

  • Prince Eoghan
  • Don’t have time to look it up but are there many rugby grounds in NI named after Catholics?

    Haven’t a clue, but I’ll bet you not one rugby club is named after a “protestant” terrorist, there is not one children’s tournament named after a protestant terrorist and not once has Ulster let the UVF/UDA use Ravenhill for a “commemoration” rally.

    Now, back to the main point of the thread.
    Rugby (unlike the GAA) does, to an extent, transcend the communal and religious boundaries; witness the many Ulster protestants who follow the “Ireland” rugby team, regardless of how the IRFU has behaved in the past re anthems, emblems etc.

    Is there any potential whatsoever in the GAA peforming a similar kind of function, ie becoming a cross-community sport?
    Does it need to, in your opinion, and if so, how can it make the whole GAA experience more attractive to non-traditional fans?
    Try and be positive and attack that question.

  • mnob

    “”OK so we can all get along as long as we play by nationalist rules.”

    Nope, it’s just that separate teams are incapable of uniting everyone here. You are welcome to try, I just don’t see it working”

    Kensei – thats saying the same thing in a different way. You are saying that *you* wont support ‘partition’ sports so *you* expect everyone else to go along with your model of all island associations.

    There are perfect models of sports ogranised in a seperate UK and ROI basis that get along just fine – its just you dont want to see.

  • “It’s not grown up stuff like politics or religion!”

    Oh God, I hope that was in jest.

  • Thomist

    Ravenhill has an end named after St Thomas Aquinas
    surely he was a catholic?

  • No Dozer

    “Quite a lot of grounds seemed to be named after protestants”

    I have never claimed that the G.A.A.is religiously sectarian(just some of it’s supporters) but it certainly is politically and culturally sectarian, just like the nice miidle class I.R.F.U. I have never come across or heard of any unionists playing G.A.A. as adults.

  • rubin

    ‘Haven’t a clue, but I’ll bet you not one rugby club is named after a “protestant” terrorist, there is not one children’s tournament named after a protestant terrorist and not once has Ulster let the UVF/UDA use Ravenhill for a “commemoration” rally.’

    As a football man thats a joke statement.

    Commemorations for uvf/pup leader at the oval, grounds and social clubs used by orange order and other ‘organisations’. unionist only symbols and anthems at internationals, upsurge in sectarianism by supporters etc…etc….

  • Oh dear, you seem to be struggling here.

    As a football man thats a joke statement.

    Why?
    There are Ulster rugby grounds named after terrorists? Want to enlighten us- where?

    Sammaguire made a point about perceived sectarianism in Ulster rugby, hence my comparison.

    I note that no gaelic fans have run with my question about cross-community programmes or ideas. Do none of you have an opinion, or do you not consider this “kind of thing” important?

  • willowfield

    KENSEI

    The advantages of All Ireland teams are that everyone can support them, rather than the football situation which fractures into Nationalists and Unionists supporting different teams.

    By that logic, go the whole hog and have an all-British-Isles team.

    SAMMAGUIRE

    Quite alot of GAA grounds seem to be named after Protestants (Parnell,Tone,Casement,Semple,Dr Hyde,Markievicz etc).

    Can you discern any theme in the type of Protestants the GAA likes to commemorate? Ironically, your list simply highlights the partisan political nature of the GAA!

  • kensei

    “By that logic, go the whole hog and have an all-British-Isles team.”

    Where are these “British Isles”? My Irish maps don’t seem to have them.

    I wasn’t aware the Scottish, the English and the Welsh were in fact Irish. I was so hoping you’d go for “By that logic, we might as well have a United Ireland” too.

  • Prince Eoghan

    willow

    >>Can you discern any theme in the type of Protestants the GAA likes to commemorate? Ironically, your list simply highlights the partisan political nature of the GAA!<

  • sammaguire

    “Where are these “British Isles”? My Irish maps don’t seem to have them.”

    Radio Moscow used to announce (deliberately) that they were broadcasting to the British Isles and Ireland.

  • You should have thrown this article back at me sammaguire earlier:

    http://www.tribune.ie/article.tvt?_scope=Tribune/News/Home%20News&id=77219&SUBCAT=Tribune/News&SUBCATNAME=News

    Granted, the initiative came from the schools rather than the GAA, but still a welcome development?

  • willowfield

    KENSEI

    Where are these “British Isles”? My Irish maps don’t seem to have them.

    Zzzzzzz

    I wasn’t aware the Scottish, the English and the Welsh were in fact Irish.

    Nor was I. What a stupid and irrelevant comment you’ve just made.

    I was so hoping you’d go for “By that logic, we might as well have a United Ireland” too.

    No: if a team representing “All Ireland” means that “everyone [in Ireland] can support them”, it must also follow that a team representing “All the British Isles [or whatever name your over-sensitive self wants to give them] must mean that everyone in the British Isles can support them.

    Do you disagree with your own logic?

    PRINCE EOGHAN

    Aye they like to commemorate Irish people who tended not to be subservient to the supposed masters will, your point? The partisan politics that you speak of is a double-edged sword, just how many Unionist politicians down the years have ever championed Gaelic games?

    GAA is the only sport that commemorates any political icons. That’s the point! Rugby doesn’t do it; football doesn’t do it; cricket doesn’t do it, etc., etc., even though presumably politicians down the years have “championed” those sports. GAA is a sport immersed in partisan politics like no other. That’s the point.

    Condemning an organisation for a state of affairs not entirely of their making is not really fair.

    Who forced them to name their grounds, clubs, teams, etc. after republicans?!! Wise up. They did so, and continue to do so, of their own volition.

    Actually it is ludicrous judging them for not having people from a particular creed, or a political ethos that has been at times actively hostile to them.

    And why has this “particular creed or political ethos” at times been “actively hostile”?! The GAA was set up specifically to promote exclusive sports for Catholic/nationalists; to discourage young Catholics/nationalists from playing sport and socialising with Protestant/unionists. It was overtly anti-British and anti-unionist. It was organisationally and publicly allied with the Roman Catholic Church and with nationalist and republican politics. It was chauvinistically nationalist, deliberately promoting an exclusive “Gaelic” Irishness.

    If you start off like that, you’ve only yourselves to blame for being an apartheid sport and for the resulting apathy/hostility from those excluded. Yet you blame the excluded ones!

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>you’ve only yourselves to blame for being an apartheid sport and for the resulting apathy/hostility from those excluded. Yet you blame the excluded ones!<

  • willowfield

    Just when I was beginning to be mesmerised by that tirade common sense overwhelmed me. Just who is responsible for excluding Unionists/Prods

    The GAA.

    , and when did this exclusion policy begin?

    Right from the off. It was the GAA’s raison d’etre. It was founded as an exclusive Catholic/nationalist organisation. Yet you blame the excluded ones for being excluded!

    I’ve never heard of it …

    Then you should educate yourself.

    Eamonn Sweeney (2004), Pocket History of Gaelic Sport
    http://www.obrien.ie/files/extracts/PocketGAA-Sample.pdf

    “Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, or the Gaelic Athletic Association, was a nationalist organisation from the outset. Its formation was contemporaneous with that of the Gaelic League, and like the League it was a product of the cultural nationalism of the time – it was no coincidence that hurleys were carried as substitutes for guns on ceremonial occasions, for example, Charles Stewart Parnell’s funeral. The Gaelic Athletic Association was very much a creature of the political ferment of the late nineteenth century, which would eventually lead to the Easter Rising and Irish Independence in 1922.”

    “The new body elected to invite appropriate persons to be patrons of the organisation. They approached Dr Thomas Croke, the Archbishop of Cashel, Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell.”

    Sugden and Harvie (1995) Sport and Community Relations in Northern Ireland
    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/csc/reports/sugdenharvie/sugdenharvie95-1.htm

    “The GAA’s first charter included regulations which banned members from taking part in or watching games not deemed to be ethnically Irish or organised by the GAA and effectively barred members of the security forces from joining.”

    “Gaelic sport was an integral part of the Irish nationalist movement and demonstrated not only deepening hostility and anger towards the symbols of British rule but also evidence of the internal divisions afflicting its politics. Control of the GAA became a major feature of the factional struggle between constitutional nationalists and those who advocated the use of physical force.”

    Interview with Mike Cronin, author of “Sport and Nationalism in Ireland” (1999) (Radio National (Australia), 19th January 2001)
    http://www.ausport.gov.au/fulltext/2001/sportsf/s226378.htm

    Amanda Smith: “So its origins were to promote and develop Gaelic sports as a cultural expression of Irish distinctiveness, but also as a political expression of Irish nationalism?”

    Mike Cronin: “Absolutely. I think that’s where there’s two very important stories. … And they’re games that were incredibly well suited to rural Ireland at that time, because the GAA’s master stroke was basing the organisation of the games around the local parishes. So every parish priest became, if you like, the chairman of each individual club …. I think nationalism comes in in the ethos of the organisation at the first stroke. But then obviously within a matter of months, the GAA is taken over at the committee level at least, and then slowly throughout the whole country, by members of a sort of radical nationalist organisation called the Irish Republican Brotherhood who are physical force nationalists who are aiming at the kind of military expulsion of Britain from Ireland. And the IRB, although people in the IRB are very dedicated and very able sports organisers and administrators, but they are underpinning the whole organisation with ideas of a radical Irish nationalism, and in certain cases a very violent Irish nationalism. So those two ideas, the sport and the nationalism, the political nationalism, go hand in hand from a very early date within the organisation’s history.”

  • Prince Eoghan

    Willow

    You demonstrate an ability to type for Ireland whilst saying not a lot.

    Sure any rabid Unionist may not feel comfortable with the Nationalist ethos, same without the sectarian songs for Catholics/Nationalists at N.I. games. Just where were they excluded and when though? Now we are all aware of Proddy clubs like Linfield and Rangers discriminating against Catholics, you have yet to provide evidence of where Prods have been excluded. The reason for this is because you can’t!

  • willowfield

    You obviously didn’t read any of the quotations.

    Keep your head in the sand if that’s where you like it.

  • barnshee

    Lovely willow

    In the words of dads army “they don`t like it up em”

  • Prince Eoghan

    Willow, I refer you to your own statement on Sep 13, 2007 @ 09:42 AM

    >>f you start off like that, you’ve only yourselves to blame for being an apartheid sport and for the resulting apathy/hostility from those excluded. Yet you blame the excluded ones!< >“they don`t like it up em”<

  • willowfield

    Now if you can’t back up your assertion that Prods or Unionists were excluded …

    Read the quotations. A sport devised deliberately as an overtly nationalist sport for nationalists by definition excludes unionists. Exclusion doesn’t have to be as overt as having a sign up over the door saying “No unionists”.

    Also ‘apartheid sport’ what are you on?

    A sport for Catholics/nationalists only. A sport that promotes social division between the two traditions in Ireland.

  • IJP

    Willowfield

    I admire your commitment to the cause.

    As I said some time ago, the last ten years, rightly, have been tough for Protestants, having to come to terms with their own appalling sectarianism. Nor is the process anywhere near complete.

    The coming ten years will be tough for Catholics, for the same reason.

    Most of the sectarian poison that blights our society is hidden, but no less appalling for that.

    Kensei

    Direct quote:

    Sinn Féin is the fastest growing party in the British Isles

    Mitchel McLaughlin, March 2007.

    So, the poll-topping MLA for South Antrim seems to know where they are. I’d say it’s time you caught up.

  • Jackie Fuller Tan

    Did you enjoy the Latvia beer, Willowfield?

  • Best beer I’ve had on an away-trip was Elephant in Copenhagen…7.4%, thank you very much.

    The most recent Ms O’Neill was not entirely satisfied with its side-effects, but I did outline a pretty feasible solution to the Jerusalem Question .

    Might send a case off to Nigel, could help with his selection headaches.

  • merrion dave

    ‘Did you enjoy the Latvia beer, Willowfield?’

    It seems the hundreds of supporters singing sectarian songs during the Latvia trip was the most popular ‘bitter’ !

  • You’ve almost got it there Dave…almost.

  • sammaguire

    Yes I spotted it too oneill. He dropped the n after Latvia! Latvia is a noun not an adjective of course.
    Wasn’t able to check out the link that you provided. For the record I don’t regard Ulster rugby or the GAA as sectarian. Although I do suspect that Trevor Brennan was provoked by something more than Ulster fans slagging his pub. And I’m sure we have had similar incidents within the GAA. Doesn’t mean we’re all bigots.

  • Awac

    If only we hadn’t been turned over twice by Iceland, we’d have made it to the finals of a tournament for the first time in 22 years.

    Even worse, because of our seeding, we could well get a group including Sainsburys AND Asda next time around.

  • Yes I spotted it too oneill. He dropped the n after Latvia! Latvia is a noun not an adjective of course.

    100% Sam and not only that… he then was shameless enought to repeat the mistake .If people really must troll, they should, at the very least, have the decency to use the correct gramaticle constructions.

    For the record I don’t regard Ulster rugby or the GAA as sectarian..

    Neither do I. But that wasn’t the original point I was making.

  • Awac

    ‘Gramaticle’, O’Neill?
    Pontificating about grammar and then you refer to ‘gramaticle construction’.Oh dear………

  • I was being ironicale;)

  • Awac

    course you were, lol