George Hamilton came full circle. Ireland qualified for a first-ever major women’s tournament by beating Scotland.
he Scots played a pivotal role in Ireland 35 years ago going into a first men’s tournament when an unlikely goal by the obscure Gary MacKay defeated Bulgaria four minutes from time on a wet night in Sofia and unexpectedly propelled Ireland to the top of the group . The Big Jack Charlton train rolled in after years of disappointments.
Ireland manager Vera Pauw will know the feeling. Three and a half decades later, the women’s soccer team is the toast of the nation.
Ireland’s victory was tinged with sadness after the blast in Creeslough and goalscorer Amber Barrett paid tribute to the 10 who died in her native County Donegal. But the qualifying celebrations were also marred by an incident in the dressing room.
To really close the loop, other events of that time must be considered. Qualifying for Euro ’88 was not the dominant story this week in November 1987. Just three days earlier, eleven people were murdered while attending a memorial service commemorating those who served and died in two world wars. The Enniskillen bombing was one of the most gruesome massacres of the riots and the Provisional IRA’s brutal campaign of terror.
Killing people attending a memorial service was an act of cruelty. Ten of the dead were civilians and one a police officer. Another 64 people were injured. IRA bomb exploded near Co Fermanagh town war memorial.
Video footage of the carnage shows the road strewn with rubble, debris and wood. Rescuers dug through the rubble to rescue the victims. The roof was torn off the building where the No-Warn bomb was placed and several victims were covered in brickwork. The cenotaph with the inscription “Our Glorious Dead 1914-1918 1939-1945” was still intact. The force of the explosion tore apart the poppies on the wreaths.
Buried in the rubble of the collapsed building were Gordon Wilson and his daughter Marie. Marie Wilson was a 20-year-old student nurse. Father and daughter were trapped by the destruction and could not move. Gordon held Marie’s hand as she lay dying. He recalled her last words: “Daddy, I love you very much.” Marie passed out before rescuers dug her up. She later died in hospital.
His words had a profound impact on people’s views of the violence of the riots
Gordon Wilson’s response to his daughter’s murder captured hearts, shaped thought, and played a role in the peace process that followed. The 60-year-old clothier, originally from Co Leitrim, spoke of his forgiveness for the killers who planted the bomb. He pleaded for no retaliation for the deaths.
“But I have no ill will. I hold no grudges. Dirty talk won’t bring them back to life. She was a great little girl. She loved her job. She was a pet. She’s dead. She’s in heaven and we’ll meet again. I will pray for these men tonight and every night,” he said.
His words had a profound impact on people’s views of the violence of the riots. Gordon Wilson later became a much admired peace campaigner and was appointed to the Seanad by Albert Reynolds.
The bombing was greeted with horror, shock and disgust. The Provo leadership and their mouthpieces at Sinn Féin have rattled off sickeningly that it was a mistake and that British soldiers parading at the memorial were the target. The crocodile tears fooled no one.
Gerry Adams apologized for the bombing a decade later. But most don’t see the difference between these killings and the other Provisional IRA killings that Sinn Féin justifies to this day. Euro ’88 lifted the spirits of a nation in a bleak decade.
Marie Wilson was about the same age as the young women who left Hampden Park for Ireland last night. Born after the events of 35 years ago, these players cannot be expected to have heard of the Wilsons or the events in Enniskillen. But when they sing “Up the ‘RA” it brings back painful memories for those who lived through those sad times on this island. And it does the victims of this terror a great disservice.
Waking up every morning to hear about the murders of Catholics and Protestants became the backdrop to life in this country.
Just as these callous killings were not committed in the name of the overwhelming majority of the people of this country, so is there no glorification of those who waged a campaign of violence.
This is where the narrative of Sinn Féin thrives. The problems are in the past and mean nothing to a younger generation
To the children of the Good Friday Agreement, “Up the ‘RA” is just a chant, it means nothing to them. It rolls out in a sing-along, just like Taylor Swift’s lyrics.
This is where the narrative of Sinn Féin thrives. The problems are in the past and mean nothing to a younger generation.
Apathy is exploited by the revisionists who want to tell us that these murders have been confirmed. The victims deserve the respect of remembrance.
In the spirit of Enniskillen, as expressed by Gordon Wilson, we should forgive the murderers of Marie Wilson. But she should not be forgotten.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/up-the-ra-is-just-a-chant-to-a-younger-generation-but-it-sparks-painful-memories-for-those-who-remember-the-slaughter-of-innocents-42061166.html ‘Up the ‘RA’ is just a chant to a younger generation, but it brings back painful memories for those who remember the slaughter of the innocent