Jude Collins

Friday, 18 March 2011

You made me mad

Well, at least there was one news item with a bit of bite from yesterday’s Paddy’s Day celebrations. UTV led their six o’clock news with footage of the punch-up that followed St Mary’s defeating Boys’ Model School in the final of the Schools soccer. Somebody jostled someone and next minute it was like the aftermath of a Meath-Dublin game. Not what you’d call sporting but definitely lively footage, and I’ll bet you postponed making that cuppa until it was over as well.

These things happen. It’s hard when you lose a game. You’ve been preparing for weeks in advance, you’ve come through ninety minutes of furious competition and dammit, the toe-rags from the other side have finally nicked it. Grrrrrrrrrrr – and take that. Even Eric Cantona had his breaking point.

What’s more difficult to understand is people who get upset at the sight of a flag. No, let me correct that – get upset at the sight of a flag to which they don’t subscribe. Jim Wells got upset in Downpatrick yesterday. He said the tricolour carried by Sinn Féin councillor Eamon Mac Con Midhe was intended to provoke and the display of it forced him, Wells, to withdraw from the parade.

Now if you read any of the books about anger management, one of the basic principles they always present is that you’re responsible for your own anger. No good trying to shift it to the other person by saying “You made me angry!” They didn’t make you angry. You allowed yourself to become angry.

The same applies to being provoked. Sometimes it happens, as I say, that in the heat of sporting battle, people will, yes, lose control of themselves. But grown-up people, in the cool light of day, should be able to control their reactions. Since he was the height of a Co Down ewe, Jim Wells has known that the tricolour is the flag to which almost half the people in the north subscribe. Yet yesterday, the sight of that flag was too much - he “was provoked”. Lost, as we say, the run of himself and allowed Eamon Mac Con Midhe to dictate his, Wells’s, actions. Mac Con Midhe pressed the button, Wells reacted.

Oh dear, Jim. You’re all growed-up now. You’re in control of, responsible for your bodily and mental and emotional functions. You weren’t provoked – you allowed yourself to be provoked. Think of all the union flags Eamon Mac Con Midhe has to pass every day – as do the rest of us. Outside schools, public buildings, in public squares. We don’t like it but we control ourselves. “Community relations have been set back twenty-five years"? Well they will be if Jim and Co don’t learn to control themselves.


  1. Féilim Ó hAdhmaill18 March 2011 at 18:37

    Love it -your article. Hate the bigotry which somehow redefines inclusivity by exclusivity!

  2. this is about adopting a cautious, sneeky approach to encourage unionists to embrace their Irish identity. We have to be subtle and it doesn't work when Shinners start marching around with tri-colours. It's always a pyrrhic victory.

  3. Footage of Jim Wells waving a loyalist flag in Dundalk August 1986.


    At about 4:43 into the video clip.