On the Croker controversy

Most of the media coverage I've seen of this has been fairly predictable, so I confess I stopped reading it after a few articles. But I doubt that any of them could have been just so wildly inaccurate as this piece by - surprise surprise - a Sunday Independent columnist, Eamonn Sweeney.

Mr Sweeney writes that

when the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) voted to allow foreign games at the ground, England was hardly mentioned... That God Save The Queen would be played in the stadium was not uppermost in anyone’s mind.

Now, I don't know which debates he was listening to at the time, but I can tell you that that was certainly one of the key issues raised by republican opponents of the change to Rule 42. In fact, I can remember a few people having to deny that it was the only issue, because it was starting to get to the point where some were suggesting that there would be no problem if an agreement could be reached whereby the anthem would not be played. So the idea that this is a newly-thought up controversy is simply untrue.

Sinn Féin's position on the matter was reached at an Ard Fheis a couple years ago, just before the change to Rule 42, when we passed a motion stating that we would accept whatever decision the GAA took. It wasn't a unanimous decision on our part, and there remain large numbers of people within the party who disagree with it - and even those of us who voted in favour would have had serious reservations, among them the spectre of GSTQ and the union flag. But that it was the GAA's decision to make and not ours is, I think, not really debatable.

Which is why today's protest doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, if you think about it. Not that people who oppose England's presence at Croke Park don't have a right to protest - of course they do. But we all knew this was coming as soon as Rule 42 was scrapped, two years ago, and I don't recall any organised effort to prevent it in the intervening period, say by announcing a boycott of the GAA until the change was reversed. Indeed, a couple of the people I know who were most vocal against it have continued to give their money to the very organisation whose decision they'll be protesting today.

It isn't the England team, or the IRFU, who are ultimately responsible for GSTQ being played at Croke Park today. It just seems a little bit silly to me that they and not the GAA will be the protestors' target.


On another note, I've been asked to post up another letter on the policing issue which didn't make it into An Phoblacht. I'm happy to oblige, although I do want to point out (especially for any muckraking journos reading this) that the paper has published other letters dissenting from the party line on this issue.

A Chara,

I wish to reply to issues raised by Seán McGabhann's letter in the February 8th edition of your paper. In it, Mr McGabhann claims to have recently realised that joining the policing boards was the right way to go and that those 'misguided' individuals who opposed it, needed to be persuaded that the struggle continues.

The problem I have with Mr McGabhann's remarks are twofold. Firstly, he argues as if it is the existence of a politics-based route itself that is the most problematic aspect for those who opposed joining the policing boards. If this were the case, why would people have stayed for so long? I would argue that people who opposed this just simply did not see the same advantage in it as they did with say, the GFA. Essentially, the present policing arrangements are a solution imposed by the two governments, with some minor tweaking by republicans. If the policing boards were such a site of struggle, why did we have to wait until now?

Secondly, he fails to adequately explain how he came to this sudden conversion? What became so radically different in the past few weeks? Perhaps it is those who voted yes who need to be persuaded that the road to a unified Democratic Socialist Republic will be an extremely long one which involves much thinking outside the box, rather than jumping into bed with homophobic fascists (the DUP) and accepting Brit- influenced policing solutions, just because we worry that people won't like us. (What else is new?)

Is mise le meas
Donal O' Driscoll
Co Cork

1 comment:

WorldbyStorm said...

I agree with your points about Croke Park. I'm a Dublin fan and I've had some hesitation about the grounds being used, but speaking with GAA members the overwhelming sentiment was in favour of that outcome. That's fair enough, and the direction of the protests - bizarre as they were in the end - was misguided.

On Donal's letter, I think the only point I'd make is that nothing is fixed in stone, least of all opinion and it's not absolutely inconsistent of Seán McGabhann to change his mind on this or other issue. Where I'd take issue with McGabhann is the term 'misguided' which I think is unfair to those who sincerely oppose the move.

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