England play Ireland today in the Rugby Six Nations at Croke Park, the site of the killing – by British soliders – of 12 members of the public.
The killings took place 87 years ago and were followed by a series of reprisals by IRA terrorists. Despite this all having taken place outside of the living memory of all but a handful of nonogenerian Irishmen and women, there have been calls for God Save the Queen not to be played because it’s a painful reminder of British occupation and attrocities, etc., etc.
Let’s just put this into context – in 1920 the Irish Free State still didn’t exist, terrorists were running amock and Ireland was still part of the UK. What happened 87 years ago we don’t know with any real accuracy – there probably isn’t a person alive now who was actually there. The shooting of innocent people by soliders is, of course, a sad thing but it was 87 years ago. We don’t ask the Italians not to play their national anthem because of what the Romans did to us centuries ago, we don’t ask the Germans not to play their national anthem because of the two world wars they stated which resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people and nor should the Irish demand that God Save the Queen isn’t played.
To be honest, I would be delighted not to have to listen to God Save the Queen. I am a monarchist and I wish no ill of the Queen and if there is, indeed, a god then I would certainly ask that he save her. However, it is not the English national anthem and the English team is not representing Britain. Northern Ireland is part of the Irish rugby team which means playing God Save the Queen gives them two national anthems – a little unfair don’t you think? Jerusalem is played before England matches now but the British national anthem is always played afterwards (because the Princess Royal is the RFU’s patron was the excuse I was given). Jerusalem is the most popular choice for an English national anthem and should be played instead before every sporting event which England takes part in.
But getting back to my original point – the Irish are being unreasonable, plain and simple. It’s almost worth having God Save the Queen just to prove a point.