Monday 15 December 2008

Belfast Giants? – don't fall for it!

The Sunday Business Post has been sold the line that the "Belfast Giants’ success is ‘crucial for peace’"

It quotes Belfast Giants owner Jim Gillespie as saying that "it is "essential" that cross-community sports survive to ensure lasting peace in the North".

Now who, bar a real Grinch, would have a bad word to say about something as wholesome as Ice Hockey?

Well, this blog, for one, and this is why.

The Belfast Giants are not 'just' an ice hockey team – they are a specifically British ice-hockey team. They play in a league of ten teams: Sheffield, Coventry, Nottingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Hull and Basingstoke, which are all, bar Belfast, in Britain. The promotion of ice-hockey as a 'non-sectarian' alternative to GAA or soccer is nothing more than an attempt to tie young people into a completely Britain-centred sporting project, and to turn their eyes and their attention towards Britain. It is, in a very clear way, a cultural weapon designed to increase the identification of young people with Britain, and thus away from Ireland.

So when Jim Gillespie says that 'it is essential that cross-community sports survive to ensure lasting peace in the North', he means that he sees 'lasting peace' as the integration of Northern Ireland into Britain. He is not promoting north-south sporting integration – on the contrary, where it exists he ignores it: "If Belfast loses ice hockey," he is quoted as saying, "we’re in trouble. It’ll go back to having nowhere to mix. This was a part of the peace process that was virtually forgotten about; kids getting together realising they’re not different from one another in reality. It’s essential that the games continue, to move the North into the real world."

"Nowhere to mix"? Has he not heard of rugby? Cricket? Hockey? Athletics? Etc, etc, etc. All integrated all-Ireland sports, in all of which the 'kids can (and do) get together'. Is his blindness deliberate? Does he see no merit in all-Ireland mixing? Could it be that, to him, the "real world" is Britain, and the rest of Ireland is unreal?

Jim Gillespie's attitude is far from neutral. He is, wittingly or unwittingly, promoting a unionist agenda. That he claims to be doing so for 'well-meaning' reasons is not credible. He is an intelligent man who knows what he is doing. This is simply another example of unionism in its broadest sense, including the British authorities, using a Catholic from Northern Ireland to promote unionism on the sly. It can be seen more and more in different fields - Eoghan Quigg in the X Factor was another recent example - everyone, even unionist politicians, were supposed to support him - but only, of course, because he was in a British talent show. If he had been a finalist in an Irish talent show the silence, from the media and unionist politicians, would have been deafening.

There are, no doubt, many other examples of this silent campaign being waged by unionism and its friends in the media. Nationalists need to be aware of the manipulation, in order better to resist it and to identify the people behind it.


Mack said...

I don't know Horseman. X Factor is shown on both TV3 and UTV, so it's pretty popular across Ireland (as was support for Eoghan Quigg, and he was heavily marketed as Irish on the show itself). Media coverage for shows that only air on southern networks is probably much lower in the north (but you would hardly expect UTV to promote shows on RTE, or worse TV3 or Channel 6 - owned by English ITV rivals Granada who cannabalised what should have been UTV's biggest market). You're a Star isn's as slick as X-Factor or American Idol. The latter does get a fair bit of media coverage here (down south too).

At one time, I think they were trying to set up a Dublin team to play in that league. I imagine it's more about economies of scale rather than national identity. You're mostly talking about Canadians coming over and putting on a show.

One thing I remember about life in the north, is that the smallest things can seem really threatening. Often when they don't need too. People don't need to reject something just because it's British or Irish. I'd say energies would be better spent promoting stuff you do like, than resisting stuff you don't...

Anonymous said...

Have to agree in some aspects. If a young Ulster Protestant was successful on any tv show in the South it would wouldn't be promoted by political Unionists. Not because they didn't know about it, but because they don't want to promote integration of the young people on this island.

It is the Unionist agenda to point to Britain as their homeland. Ireland is but an inconvenient place they have to live, among the savage natives whom they don't wish to mix with.

Listen to many Unionists talk about Ireland (the island they live on) and it's as if they think they actually live in Britain with no real connection to the island they, and all their ancestors for 400 years, are from.

Mack said...

Anonymous: That is their loss.

I think one area where the focus on GB does real damage, that Horseman highlighted previously, is in the brain drain to GB univesities. Not only because NI looses some of it's brightest - but because it separates families.

There are genuine world class universities in the south (Dublin - TCD & UCD). If there was an integrated all-Ireland university application system - it would be to the benefit of all.

By going to Dublin rather than GB, students would be a bus or train drive from home. Later, once they settle down - grandparents can visit their grandkids on a whim (or vice versa) even for a day. No booking flights in advance, fretting over accomodation and hanging round airports for hours.

Anonymous said...

The Irish talent show winners don't go on to stardom.

Blow-in said...

An article clearly written by someone who has not one jot of a clue about the sport in these island.

Shame he/she hasn't actually realised that kids on both sides of the fence play the game here, as well as in England, Wales and Scotland.

Narrow minds very rarely open. on both sides of the fence.

Blow-in said...

An article clearly written by someone who has not one jot of a clue about the sport in these island.

Shame he/she hasn't actually realised that kids on both sides of the fence play the game here, as well as in England, Wales and Scotland.

Narrow minds very rarely open. on both sides of the fence.

Andrew said...

This is absolute crap! This emphasis on the Belfast Giants is to promote a nature of peace between the two communities of Northern Ireland. It hasn't got anything to do with Northern Ireland's position within the UK, or for that matter, anything to do with the Republic of Ireland. It's just typical that some biggot like yourself has to make it out like there's an alterior motive behind it.

It's people like yourself that stop any progress being made anywhere with regards to cross-community relations. If you don't like the Giants, then you don't have to go and see them. Simple as that!

El Woogiachi said...

Not to spoil your rant with "breaking new content"... but the Belfast Giants Junior team play exclusively Irish opposition in the IIHL, or Irish Ice Hockey League - which might help to support Jim Gillespie's argument.

The league is made up of the Giants, four Irish teams (including the misleadingly-named Latvian Hawks, based in Dundalk) and the scottish Fife Flyers.

Bill_00 said...

The EIHL has an Irish Chairman, Eamonn Convery, and has, since it's previous incarnation as the ISL had options for an Irish (as in southern Ireland) franchise. This franchise was originally to have played in the ill fated "Bertie Bowl" and is still floating in limbo until a suitable venue to play.

Add to that the fact that Irish born and trained players are treated in the same way as any other "homegrown" player means that as many doors as it is currently possible to open given the lack of facilities in the South Ireland have been opened for the inclusion of the south into the EIHL

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting and well-meaning viewpoint, but I do feel that you're a bit off target.

It's pretty simple. An Irish EIHL team would benefit the league as a whole, but up until a couple of years ago there wasn't even an ice rink in the ROI. There's now one in Dundalk, but realistically, viable, commercial support for an international game like ice hockey will have to come from Dublin (the only major European city without an ice rink). When that happens then things will start mocing.

Oneill said...

What a load of balls you have just spouted off, your as bad as the people that held this country back for years. You sound just like the old man Paisley back in his day. Blood and thunder bull crap, and scare scaremongering.

Have you ever be to a Giants game or know what they are really about? You sound like a very paranoid

Gary Jamison said...

You really do need to wind your neck it has already been stated by previous posts, the Giants are giving alot back to the whole community.

Jacko said...

You have no idea what your talking about. The Junior Giants play in an all Ireland league with teams from Belfast Dundalk Dublin Kilkenny and other localities in between. Now while the Link between Giants at the odyssey and the Junior Giants are tedious at best, without the giants at the Odyssey there would be no all ireland League.

C4 said...

At Anonymous 13:31:
Another Irish league team wouldn't actually benefit the league as a whole cause the GB teams would have an extra 3 games to buy plane/boat tickets for as opposed to a bus journey up or down the country. Which is a lot more extra expense than they have already. It would benefit only the giants.