Tuesday 20 November 2018

The plates may be moving, but who knows in which direction

Deep divisions remain between North and South - and within the North itself

INCLUSIVE: Arlene Foster wants DUP to broaden appeal Pic: AFP/Getty
INCLUSIVE: Arlene Foster wants DUP to broaden appeal Pic: AFP/Getty

Ruth Dudley Edwards

As I was ruminating on the implications of Leo Varadkar allegedly telling Fine Gael TDs that "the plates are shifting in Irish politics", I accidentally came across a news item about a Dungannon hurling club that made me laugh - but also provided insight into the big issue.

You need to know that Dungannon, Co Tyrone, where Tom Clarke, the prime mover in the 1916 rising grew up, is a very sectarian town in a very sectarian county and Anglophobia is rife among nationalists. You also need to know that Australian cricketers in recent years popularised the unpleasant tactic of sledging, which involves trying to undermine the opposition team by being grossly offensive.

Last weekend, children from a so-far-unidentified Leinster club set about sledging Dungannon's Eoghan Ruadh hurling club, which was participating in an all-Ireland under-14 competition in Westmeath. Being children, they fortunately didn't go in for the Aussie practice of claiming to be sleeping with the opposition's wives. They did worse. According to Eoghan Ruadh's chairman: "Children as young as 11 and 12 used sectarian sledging including calling our players 'British bastards' and saying, 'You are not even Irish, away home you Brits'."

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