History will be made today in Ireland at Croke Park the site of the first Bloody Sunday. From The Christian Science Monitor…
DUBLIN, IRELAND –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 scotsman.com...
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withdrawn his father’s 23 sports and military medals from the Croke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.