I know I've blogged on this before but I caught the tail-end of Seamus McKee talking to Trevor Ringland and Tim Pat Coogan on BBC Radio Ulster's 'Evening Extra' yesterday. They were discussing 'Ireland's Call', which the Ireland rugby team use. If they're playing at home, they get 'Ireland's Call' AND 'Amhrán na bhFiann' played. If the game is abroad, they get 'Ireland's Call' only.
The Australians have a phrase for it: cultural cringe. The notion that whatever is native, local, your own, is somehow deficient. If there's another country in the world that is so embarrassed by its own national anthem it arranges for it not to be played at an international sporting event or accompanies it by a tune magicked up by a pop composer, I haven't heard about it. If northern unionists don't like to hear the national anthem, that's unfortunate. But to not just expect but succeed in having the national anthem banished for that reason - that really does seem like the unionist tail wagging the national dog.
Think about it. The northern unionist component of the national rugby squad is what - 20%? Yes I know it's less but let's say it's 20%. In the north, the nationalist population is somewhere around 45%. Do you think there's much chance that the union flag will flutter at Stormont alongside the tricolour, much less be banished and replaced by a flag invented by a pop artist?
In the few minutes I heard on 'Evening Extra', Trevor Ringland said he thought 'Ireland's Call' was great, Tim Pat Coogan thought we needed an all-Ireland song contest to pick a NEW anthem, and Seamus of course thought it was such a healthy debate.
Do you ever get the feeling you're living in an Alice-in-Wonderland world where daftness is presented as common sense and self-abasement as sweet reason?