Tuesday 17 October 2017

Sport has the potential to bring us together like nothing else in Irish life

Optimism: A young supporter watches Ireland qualify for the European Football Championships at the Aviva Stadium earlier this month
Optimism: A young supporter watches Ireland qualify for the European Football Championships at the Aviva Stadium earlier this month
Stephen Ward celebrates with Jon Walters at the end of the match that saw Ireland qualify for Euro 2016

Eamonn Sweeney

The European Football Championships in June present this country's biggest chance for a mass explosion of communal joy in 2016. There might be a general election coming up but it's unlikely that city streets will have to be closed because crowds have gathered to sing, "Ole, ole, ole, the Labour Party has gone away."

A budget may make more material difference to us than any football match but there's a good reason why the pubs won't be thronged with people biting their nails and leaping off their stools in joy as the finance minister announces the abolition of the Universal Social Charge. It's because sport touches parts other things can't reach.

Sport matters a great deal in this country. Every year the vast majority of RTE's top 10 programmes ratings wise are sporting events. This year a record-breaking 1.6 million people watched TV3's coverage of Ireland's Rugby World Cup match with France. Sport unites us like nothing else.

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