It's Only A Game...

Here's this morning's Thought for the Day on Good Morning Ulster, prompted by last week's superb BBC NI documentary about Alec Reid's role in the dramatic events of 25 years ago and how this prompted his ongoing efforts at peacemaking.

As noted in the comment below the image to the left apparently originated from the camera of Sam Knox. Check out his other work on Apologies to the artist for the previously unauthorised use...

Although yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, it was a mixed weekend for Irish rugby fans – The women won their first ever grand slam, but their male counterparts slumped to ignominious defeat. Yet despite the Celtic gloom that enveloped me I reminded myself that it’s only a game… and, that no-one had died. Because all through Saturday my mind kept going back 25 years.
I was studying in Edinburgh then, having deliberately left behind a Northern Ireland riven by hatred and violence. That year, like this, Ireland had won their first match, against Scotland, giving me some bragging rights, but, again like this year, it all went downhill from there. Pride hinged on the last game against England and I sought out a local bar that was showing the fateful match on TV.
But the coverage was interrupted by breaking news from Belfast… The previous fortnight here had been fractious, following the shooting of IRA activists Mairead Farrell, Sean Savage and Danny McCann in Gibraltar… Michael Stone subsequently attacked their funeral in Milltown Cemetery… Then, that Saturday, 19th March 1988, the BBC switched from Twickenham to Andersonstown where mourners at the funeral of Kevin Brady, one of Stone’s victims, had thought that they were under attack again. They stopped a car being driven erratically by 2 British Army corporals, Derek Wood and David Howe, dragging them away into nearby Casement Park where they were executed.
It was so immediate… so visceral… so seemingly barbaric, illustrating vividly why I had turned my back on my place of birth.
Thankfully, however, that was not true of people like Father Alec Reid who was there in the midst of the chaos, trying to bring spiritual succour to those 2 soldiers… And who subsequently sought to change the political landscape that produced such violence… working with others to pave the way that led to the Good Friday Agreement…
The next day the minister of our church in Edinburgh preached on Christ’s journey to Jerusalem that culminated with Good Friday, and Saint Patrick’s dream of a man from Ireland calling him to bring the gospel to the place where he had been enslaved… I’m no latter day Patrick but the events of that weekend became part of the backdrop to my sense of call to ministry back in Ireland… believing that the call of the Christian is not to run from conflict and trouble, and observe difficulties from a safe distance, but to follow Christ, whose path was one of sorrow and suffering… facing our fears and seeking to make a difference.



Sam Knox said…
I would like to draw your attention to your unauthorised use of my photograph in this article. I refer to the one of the Irish rugby shirt badges.
No permission was sought for the use of this image.
It is my intellectual property, and its use without license or authorisation is a clear breach of my copyright.
I would ask you to either desist from using it, or else add a credit and a link back to my website at
Many thanks.

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