Thursday, October 07, 2004

You'll Never Walk Alone

I'm going to Paris tomorrow for France v. Ireland in a World Cup qualifier. There are ten of us, all mates from Dundalk, heading over. I'm very nervous about the game. My brain tells me France really ought to win despite a lot of upheavel in their squad since the end of Euro 2004. My heart, however, tells me that, if we're ever to beat the likes of France, now's the time to do it. Brian Kerr, the Ireland manager, is well known to be cautious and one feels he'll try to make sure of the point without going nuts. But I hope we go for the win and i really hope we get it. It would be such a fantastic feeling to win in the Stade de France, to celebrate scoring a goal there especially.

Ireland is full of bandwagon jumpers and I don't mind admitting that, as a fan of domestic Irish football, I get quite bitter about the rise of rugby especially. Irish people don't mind that the teams they support play uncompetitive minority sports as long as they are winning. The football chant "Only sing when your winning" could have been written with the Irish in mind. The Irish have virtually an American attitude to sports, in that an extended football league programme does not attract punters. The all or nothing, 5 or 6 games a year scene of the GAA Championships - Irish indigenous sports of Gaelic football (like Aussie Rules) and Hurling (like field hockey) - or the European and 6-Nations egg chasing, suits the instant buzz-seeking, band wagon jumper a lot more. The sight of Mayo fans heading for the exits 30 minutes before the end of an All Ireland gaelic football final should be all the proof you need of that.

Rant over. I just want to be able to go back to Cork on Tuesday and say I was there for a famous victory. I hope we don't get stuffed and I hope my first words afterwards are "we should have won".

If I was picking the team it would be...


We'll wait and see, here's hoping.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Somebody Got Murdered

On the 10:00 news on today fm here in Ireland there was a headline about Kenneth Bigley, the Englishman being held captive in Iraq for over two weeks. The Newsreader actually stated that "reports suggest that Mr. Bigley has not been executed yet as his kidnappers are trying to determine if he is Irish or British". How disgusting is that? It absolutely sickened me. It is such a preposterous suggestion for so many reasons. That line should never have been broadcast, it's the "everybody hates the English and loves the Irish" bullshit on a whole, disgusting, new level. It's worth pointing out, by the way, that I saw no reference to this on the Reuters website, or anywhere else, yet.

Since Mr Bigley's kidnapping the two Americans taken with him have been decapitated. I don't know their names because the standard news reports only refer to them as "the two Americans" (if they are even mentioned at all). Also, and maybe more significantly, hundreds of people have died during that period from battles, shootings and bombings. A lot are so-called resistance fighters but a hell of a lot are people who have not chosen to fight anyone and are getting murdered. These people, including 21 more killed by car bombs this morning, are being deliberately killed by "their own kind" not by the Americans - although I'm sure it's all the Americans fault (that was sarcasm by the way!)

Sunday, October 03, 2004

I'm So Bored With the USA

I haven't read Andrew Sullivan in a few months. Maybe because of that I can spot the shift in his attitude to George Dubya. Since the so-called War on Terror began he has been an ardent supporter of Bush's policies and a strong critic of those who were against the invasion of Iraq. He was also quite keen to stick the boot into Kerry (I should point out, in fairness, with genuine criticisms and not Fox News-esque character assasination). There were only relatively slight criticisms of the post-war (how daft that sounds right now...) policies in Iraq. Now, however, while apparently still backing Bush, he's a lot more critical... "I cannot believe the situation is beyond rescue. But this president's policies have made it much much more difficult than it might have been. Elections are now more vital than ever - because they are the sole means of gaining the advantage in the legitimacy stakes. With those must come a relentless guerrilla war against the enemy, a massive increase in troop levels (whether Iraqi or America), and a huge effort for reconstruction. But we have thrown away a year's worth of opportunity. By incompetence and lack of will. Fallujah was a kind of Dunkirk. And Bush is no Churchill. "

Sullivan has also admitted that "...Kerry, for all his glaring faults, is still worth considering". He has a link to a Poynter Online transcript of a Wall Street Journal journalist's email to friends (scroll down) about being in Iraq today. It's harrowing stuff... "It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come."

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