Sunday, 19 May 2013

let the England fans sing "No surrender to the IRA"

I used to work in a hotel for disabled guests in Lourdes, and one week a pilgrimage from Glasgow came in, so I invited two Irish women I worked with to come and meet some people I knew. When we went into their hotel’s bar we found a Scottish priest of my acquaintance marching on a tabletop, leading a riotous group in IRA rebel songs. Disgusted, my friends turned on their heels and I followed.

It was 1991, the year the IRA bombed 10 Downing Street and Victoria Station, and also murdered a man in Dundalk in the Republic leading to anti-IRA marches there. I hope my anecdote shows that not all Irish people are IRA supporters.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding Britain and Ireland’s joined and sometimes unhappy history. For example, when Irish historian Tom Reilly looked into Drogheda during Oliver Cromwell’s invasion – regarding which Irish history textbooks say his forces "slaughtered the entire population" - he traced contemporary records kept by Irish people in which there’s not one mention of an ununiformed Irish civilian being killed.

go to the England football site at fa.com
So I’m surprised that England manager Roy Hodgson has stepped into the fray by asking England fans not to sing No surrender to the IRA at the friendly with the Republic of Ireland on May 29. For one thing singing it isn’t a criminal offence, and for another the popular Irish football song A Soldier’s Song is the equivalent sentiment – and it’s the Republic’s national anthem. Nation Once Again is the same, and in this 2012 clip of two heavily disguised Ireland supporters you can hear one shout "Up the RA!" at the end.

Will Irish fans be asked not to sing provocative songs? If not then Roy Hodgson should concentrate on football, and FIFA needs to learn that such situations let more pressure out than they create.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Resources

1991 in the Northern Ireland conflict - Conflict Archive on the Internet from Ulster University

Cromwell: The Irish Question - Tom Reilly, History Today

Hodgson tells fans to cut out anti-IRA songs at Ireland Friendly - Telegraph

A Soldier's Song - words and music at fanchants.com

Watch and listen to Nation Once Again or click here to view on YouTube

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