The winning of the All-Ireland hurling final by Limerick was joyous. But it is likely that the occasion was spoiled by repeated singing of ‘Sean South of Garryowen’, a song associated with IRA violence. No thought was given to the feelings of those very many people, in all parts of Ireland, who have been victims of such violence, or whose family have. In Limerick especially, where Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was murdered by the IRA in 1996, the singing of this song was inappropriate.
Lest we forget, in addition to the 3,500 people killed in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, people were also killed in the Republic of Ireland, including Pte Patrick Kelly and Garda Gary Sheehan, during the Don Tidey kidnapping in 1983, and a Protestant member of the
Oireachtas, Senator Billy Fox, shot dead in Co Monaghan in 1974.
Sport in Ireland should be unifying and not divisive. Our 32-country women’s hockey team, and our Irish rugby teams, are very good examples of this.
A huge step forward has been achieved by the Good Friday Agreement peace process, but arguably not enough has been done to promote reconciliation. There are many other, more appropriate songs that could have been sung to celebrate this victory.
On the island of Ireland, we all need to learn to live in peace and show respect for each other’s traditions.