Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The GAA, and the Need to Honour Constable Ronan Kerr and the PSNI

An Spailpín was struck by the tremendous dignity of Constable Ronan Kerr’s mother as she spoke to the media in the aftermath of his murder in a car bomb. Let his death not be in vain, she said.

And she was right. Such a grim reminder of the past shouldn’t be filed as just one of those things. An acceptable level of violence, as Reggie Maulding once put it.

So maybe it’s an opportunity for the biggest national organisation on the island to make a gesture, and say we are all Irish people of equal stature, irrespective of code or creed, Catholic, Protestant or Dissenter.

Wouldn’t it be great if the GAA were to organise a challenge match between the PSNI and either a Garda selection or a GAA all-star selection? The Garda team is the obvious comparator, but the Guards will have a better pick and having the PSNI boys hammered won’t make anyone feel better.

So how either a GAA All-Star team of veterans whose age would have drawn some of their sting to give the PSNI a game, or else appoint some GAA players policemen for a day, and let them line out on the PSNI side to even things up a bit?

Whatever. The details don’t really matter. What does matter is if the game were on. And not on some back pitch in Belfast. A full house day in the summer – maybe one of the August Bank Holiday weekend games, a day out for the PSNI with all the trimmings? President, dignitaries, the Artane Band, the works.

The game would show that everyone on the island is a Gael, irrespective of who they are, what they do for a living, where they live or whether they prefer their spuds waxy or floury. It would say that none of that matters. That we have drawn a line under history, and old disputes and old squabbles that aren’t worth any mother’s tears.

That a man or woman who wants to be policemen and maybe buy a house and meet a nice nurse some night in Coppers and set up a house and family and raise their children to be good and honest people should be allowed to do that. It really doesn’t seem like much to ask.

I saw something on Sunday about a visit to Croke Park by Queen Elizabeth of England. I didn’t like it. I would like to see a PSNI team play and made a fuss over in Croke Park first. It would mean that we are able to look after our own affairs on the island, and that we recognize neither border nor boundary between Irish people. The Queen’s visit isn’t necessary. Celebrating our brothers and sisters in the PSNI as the island tries to repair the hurt of centuries is.

God have mercy on Constable Kerr. I hope a PSNI team can play in Croke Park this summer so we can celebrate his life and what he tried to achieve.