Symbolic Saturday

History will be made today in Ireland at Croke Park the site of the first Bloody Sunday. From The Christian Science Monitor

Shortly before 5:30
p.m. on Saturday the “unthinkable” will happen in Dublin’s historic
Croke Park stadium. Eighty-seven years after British troops fired into
the crowd here and killed innocent Irish spectators, England’s rugby
team will sing God Save the Queen before a peaceful international match
against their Irish opponents.

The last time the British appeared here – albeit
as soldiers, not rugby players – has gone down in history as (the
first) Bloody Sunday. That day – Nov. 21, 1920 – began with the
assassination of 14 British agents and informers by the Irish
Republican Army. In response, British troops surrounded Croke Park
stadium during a Gaelic football match to search spectators as they
left the ground, but the crowd panicked and in the confusion 14 were

Tensions have heightened according to

In pubs and on radio phone-ins, debate has intensified this week
about what will happen this afternoon when a drumroll signals the start
of God Save the Queen to a sold-out 82,000 crowd.

Security has been strengthened amid threats of demonstrations by IRA
dissidents, while figures from within Gaelic football have also
expressed their anger at the staging of the game.

“There is widespread disbelief over what is going to happen in Croke
Park,” said JJ Barrett, a Gaelic footballer from the 1960s whose late
father, Joe, was one of the sport’s first major stars. Barrett has
withdrawn his father’s 23 sports and military medals from the Croke
Park museum in protest.

“To have the arrogant, war-mongering words of God Save the Queen
ringing out over Croke Park is surely pushing the boundaries of
tolerance and common sense beyond what is expected in any republic on
earth,” he said.

The splinter group Republican Sinn Fein (RSF), which split from
Northern Ireland’s main Sinn Fein nationalist party in the 1980s, says
it is planning a peaceful protest, and party spokesman Ruairi Og O
Bradaigh said: “We are protesting at the political symbolism of this
event. There’s a political agenda to try and make out it’s a normal
situation between Ireland and England, whereas in fact it’s not.”


Nevertheless, police remain confident that the match will pass off
without serious incident, and there are many who believe the occasion
should be seen as a celebration of Ireland’s new-found maturity,
following more than a decade of economic boom and co-operation with
Britain to broker a 1998 peace deal for Northern Ireland.

If Britain’s national anthem can peacefully ring around the terraces
where her troops once killed Irish civilians, it could signal a new era
in relations and help lay old animosities to rest.

5 thoughts on “Symbolic Saturday

  1. virgotex says:

    Let’s hope no one gets hurt. I am all for peace.
    That said, the phrase “Ireland’s new-found maturity” really “gets my Irish up.”

  2. scoutprime says:

    Virgotex…I had the same reaction to that phrase!

  3. anationonceagain says:

    Woo woo. Ireland beat England 43-13.

  4. justathought says:

    The CSM article is incorrect when it states:
    “In response, British troops surrounded Croke Park stadium during a Gaelic football match to search spectators as they left the ground, but the crowd panicked and in the confusion 14 were killed.”
    The facts of the matter are that the British army surrounded the arena, and then charged in, (or over the wall) and fired indiscriminately into the crowd, and into groups of players on the pitch. Some of the players died on the pitch of gunshot wounds, and of the 13-14 dead, most were certainly not trampled.
    Shame on the CSM for misreporting this important bit of history.
    This story regarding the upcoming match, from the Irish Times, gives the correct history.

  5. flory says:

    Woo woo. Ireland beat England 43-13.
    Posted by: anationonceagain | February 24, 2007 at 14:34

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