‘Ireland’s Call’ – one small step

‘Stupid Unionism’ was a term coined around the time of the Good Friday Agreement back in 1998 to describe the thickos from the loyal side of Irish life who couldn’t grasp that they had essentially won the war.

Maybe ‘Numbskull Nationalism’ is the term to be applied to the recent bout of annoyance over the Irish rugby anthem ‘Ireland’s Call’. A whole raft of people have whipped themselves up into an indignant fury to declare that ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ is their national anthem and nothing less will do.

I suppose these people would see themselves as republicans. Well, they aren’t (any more than the numbskulls throwing bricks at the Orangemen in O’Connell Street a few weeks back).

The only way that we are ever going to have an agreed Ireland is by negotiation. Any such agreement will have to operate on a ‘parity of esteem’ basis. There is no other just or enduring alternative either in Northern Ireland or Ireland as a whole.

That being so, the emblems of the new Ireland will have to be agreed between unionists and nationalists. There is no way that either the tricolour or ‘Amhrán Na bhFiann’ is going to survive this process.

In South Africa the ANC flag and symbols did not become the national symbols after the fall of apartheid. Similarly, the emblems of republicanism will not become the symbols of a united Ireland. That’s just logic.

The IRFU is in a tricky situation, a situation that all us supposed united Irelanders are going to be in some day. They have to try and accommodate a large community of people in Northern Ireland who consider themselves to be British.

So they commissioned ‘Ireland’s Call’ which is neither nationalist or unionist. When in Dublin they still play ‘Amhrán Na bhFiann’ out of respect for the State here. When they are abroad they just play ‘Ireland’s Call’ because the team represents two separate jurisdictions.

We might not like the fact that Ireland is partitioned (and I don’t) but I respect and support the compromises of the Good Friday Agreement which recognises the Northern Ireland state until we find some peaceful way of replacing it.

Around 95 per cent of voters in the south voted for the Agreement which calls for fundamental respect for every tradition on the island. A lot of these people obviously skipped over a few clauses.

In my view the IRFU has done the honourable thing. Indeed, and they mightn’t thank me for this, they have done the republican thing. They have found a middle road that allows Irish people to coexist, unlike the clowns in the Irish press corps who reportedly refuse to stand for ‘Ireland’s Call’.

Nelson Mandela famously wore the South African rugby jersey complete with Springbok logo, which had become for many a symbol of white repression. He wore it not to endorse what had happened but as an act of compromise and forgiveness.

If a guy who had spent 27 years in prison could don the jersey of his erstwhile jailers you’d think a few numbskull nationalists in this town could raise themselves for a few bars of a song that facilitates a united Irish team and doesn’t even mention the Brits.

Start thinking lads.