15 February 2007 Edition
Media View by Frank Farrell
New-found concern for GAA in The Irish Times
From the genuinely right and the non-republican ‘left’ sections of the media has come a series of contrived stories as the Assembly elections come closer and with it the possibility of a power-sharing Executive involving republicans.
The weekend before last, a Sunday Independent editorial issued a series of demands on Sinn Féin and policing amounting to a DUP checklist, nothing so moderate as those of the Ian Paisley wing of his party, but of the die-hard wing which has made clear its opposition to any power-sharing with republicans.
According to the Sindo wing of the DUP, Sinn Féin must solve the Robert McCartney killing, give back the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery and hold the hands of the PSNI in republican areas of the North. There is, says the paper, not enough time to test Sinn Féin’s credibility on policing and there should not be an Assembly election in any case. Boxcar Willie McCrea eat your heart out.
Last weekend, the old pros of The Sunday Times moved into action — the war may be over for most other players but The Times of London is still in battle mode — with a manufactured crisis over Martin McGuinness which, claims ex-member of the Workers’ Party, Liam Clarke, “is set to become a political issue ahead of the Assembly elections”.
Meanwhile, that terribly radical journalist, Suzanne Breen of The Sunday Tribune, was again boosting hopes (her own?) of dissident republicans posing problems for Sinn Féin in the Assembly elections. Apparently, the dissident candidate in Foyle, the mother of the late Patsy O’Hara, who died on hunger strike, will be going “head to head” with Martina Anderson in Derry. Despite Anderson’s refusal to talk to Breen, the journalist was able to claim that Anderson had “initially confided doubts” about the peace process, “a friend says”.
With the terrified right-wing media combining with embittered radical-chic journalists, it looks as if Sinn Féin has achieved a strange sort of political ecumenism between those who fought against republicans and those who never fought anyone, with a word processor or anything else.
At last the Irish have proved they can be civilised, as well as neat and clean, with the GAA opening its gates to the rugger buggers of South County Dublin and the gold coast of the North.
The Irish Times had multiple orgasms in recent days with its patronising congratulations to the GAA on the “historic, immense, momentous event”, proving that the Irish are not all reactionary “diehards”.
The newspaper devoted page after page to the occasion and has also produced a large commemorative poster to celebrate the occasion. Such triumphalism proves only that Dublin 4, Southern unionists and those who seriously resent the unashamed national pride of the GAA were always far more obsessed with the ban on foreign games at Croker than any GAA member, ‘diehard’ republicans included.
The Irish Times’s new-found concern for the welfare of the GAA is to be greatly welcomed. Where was the paper of record when GAA clubs were being burned down by loyalists and British armed forces? Where were the emotional articles and editorials about the sectarian targeting and even murder of GAA members as well as the airborne intimidation, occupation and assaults on GAA pitches? The victims of these murderous assaults are dismissed as ‘diehards’.
The Sunday Times was more honest, failing to disguise its instinctive hatred for the GAA in an editorial that proclaimed “Victory at Croke Park”, which expressed its disdain for the taxpayers’ partial funding of the stadium and noted its contempt for ‘Northern republicans’ whom it described as the “Catholic/Gaelic tribe”. Modern, Southern-based unionism, as represented by The Irish Times, is more sophisticated but still at one with their betters in London.
Republicans can only wonder at such passion from newspapers that resent the social significance of the GAA, today as well as throughout the last century. It’s very simple. Such antagonism reflects a deep hatred of the GAA-led cultural and community-based fightback that has done so much for Irish self esteem, a process that continues today.
One gesture the ‘diehard tribalists’ could make when English camel-coated chaps visit Croker is to apologise for the hurt caused to any Black and Tans injured in the rush to flee the stadium on Bloody Sunday in 1920.
And a reciprocal gesture would be for Surrey Cricket Club to open its cricket pitch at the Oval to nearby Irish emigrant hurling club Seán Treacy’s. An Phoblacht would gladly allow Prince Andrew to play polo in Stephen’s Green in return.
An Phoblacht Magazine
AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:
- Don't miss your chance to get the second edition of the 2019 magazine, published to coincide with Easter Week
- This special edition which focuses on Irish Unity, features articles by Pearse Doherty, Dr Thomas Paul and Martina Anderson.
- Pearse sets out the argument for an United Ireland Economy whilst Pat Sheehan makes the case for a universally free all-island health service.
- Other articles include, ‘Ceist teanga in Éirinn Aontaithe’, ‘Getting to a new Ireland’ and ‘Ireland 1918-22: The people’s revolution’.