Back in 1936 the Olympic Games were intended to showcase Hitler’s regime.
Since the Good Friday Agreement, there have been attempts to showcase Norn Iron and how wonderfully well we get on together.
Remember Derry as the City of Culture? Tall Ships Race? Remember the MTV Awards from Belfast? Titanic? Game of Thrones? The Giro d’Italia Cycle Race? But showcasing Norn Iron is a bit like putting lipstick on a pig.
It seems that staging the “British” Open Golf Championship at “Royal” Portrush is another showcase event. The added bonus being that the North’s Rory McIlroy is one of the leading golfers in the world.
What could possibly go wrong?
I am with Mark Twain on the subject of Golf. A good walk ruined. But I am a general sports fan and any Irish success from Athletics to Show Jumping to Boxing to Water Polo is a good thing.
Grinning BBC and Ulster TV anchors and presenters went to Portrush to play their part in the showcase.
Mostly this consisted of interviewing locals who were looking forward to a week of big profits. When someone says “good for the economy” this actually means “good for rich people” and a trickle down to others….including waitresses and barmen. I hope those golf bores are big tippers.
Putting a microphone under the nose of a golf journalist from England or United States and asking “what do you think of the people of Norn Iron”?………..well what do you think the reply might be?
Is it…..”the people are so friendly, this scenery is so amazing. I love Norn Iron. So wonderful how it has changed since…..”?
Or is the reply ………”Norn Iron is a squalid sectarian hell-hole, the people are terrible and just look at the Twelfth of July and burning the Irish National Flag, nationalist election posters and Catholic symbols on bonfires”.
Well you guessed it. It was all positive.
What went wrong for Hitler’s Olympics in 1936 was a man called Jesse Owens and the undermining of his racist nonsense. But two years later in Berlin in 1938, the English football team were under (Foreign Office) orders giving a Nazi salute.
Best case scenario for conflict resolutionists was Rory McIlroy winning. We all love Rory and there is a degree of ambiguity about his nationality. He plays under the Norn Iron flag but (he tells us) will play for Ireland in the 2020 Olympics.
Another scenario…a British win……Fleetwood, Rose….also good.
Another scenario……an American or European or other win and the release of chauvinism and USA or Swedish or South African flags . Cue post-18th hole interviews “best fans in the world, lovely golf course……blah blah blah.
And worst case scenario…..an unambiguous Irish win.
And in Portrush in North Antrim (Paisley territory) and East Derry (Gregory Campbell’s constituency)
And so Shane Lowry from County Offaly. And …wasnt it great. Our very own Jesse Owens.