A united Ireland - Euro 2016

EURO 2016, the year’s first great festival of international sport, begins this evening when France plays Romania in Paris in the first of 51 championship matches.

It is an unfortunate reality of our world that the tournament opens under the cloud of a possible if not anticipated terrorist attack. Security efforts reflect this because other than the August Olympics in Brazil, terrorists consider this the summer’s blue riband target. The universal publicity such an attack would generate would, they believe, help their cause — whatever it may be.

It is also a reality of our world that this tournament will generate, through online gambling, a higher betting spend that any other sports event in history.

It is also a reality that this is the first tournament where the Republic and Northern Ireland are represented for many, many years so the island’s 32 counties are united in interest and enthusiasm if not hopes. So, let the games begin and let’s hope that this great festival can show humanity’s best side rather than its worst, most callous one.

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