Matt Treacy from Brocaire Books discusses the decision to impose a ban on a large Dubs flag at Hill 16., Croke Park.

Yes, the decision to ban the large Dublin flag from Hill 16 smacks of pettiness. Nor is it clear who exactly decided on the issue. At first it was claimed that the Dublin fire authorities had asked for it to be removed for “health and safety” reasons.

That does not seem so certain now. The GAA itself issued a statement  in June saying that only flags of A4 size or smaller be allowed into the stadium. Are we all like 7 or something? Will the stewards or guards be checking to see if we brushed our teeth and wiped our arse?

And does this only apply to Croke Park? Does it only apply to Hill 16 indeed? Because it is obvious to anyone watching other than Dublin games that flags proliferate. And rightly so.

However, if it does only apply to Dublin supporters, does that indicate that (a) Croke Park is more worried about the dangers of Dubs being consumed in an inferno caused by a blazing flag?; or (b) that Hill 16 is infested with aspirant “Pillow Pyro” Orrs itching to have their fellow supporters consigned to the Auto da Fé.

And I say all that as old curmudgeon who grumbles when said flag passes over my aging head. I once even refused to punch one of those large balloons that some Patch Adams character had decided would be a good way to induce bonhomie and good will to all. Listen pal, if I wanted to feel good about myself, or anyone else for that matter, I’d buy a bottle of vodka.

Having said all that, some of the reaction to the fleg ban has been absurd. At first the rival “ultra groups” which have a major social media presence were proposing that Dublin supporters boycott All future games. Such was the negative reaction to that, that they bargained down to a boycott of the quarter final, then to only entering the Hill after 16 minutes. Now it seems, they will be asking people not to buy pints or anything else inside the stadium. One questions their grasp of the Dublin weltanschauung.

But the most surreal aspect of it all is that one of the ultra groups upped the ante by issuing a call for Dublin supporters to turn up for Sunday’s Mayo/Roscommon encounter. Dubs were to come attired in Dublin shirts but to have Roscommon flags. Reason being is that “we” hate Mayo. This is the worldview view of Patch Adams on a bad day.

Well, what happened to the jaysus boycott lads? One moment you are telling people to boycott Croke Park in a way to hit their pocket, the next to urge people to boost the attendance at a match not involving Dublin. Seriously.

Anyway, that suggestion was also mostly greeted with mirth and is unlikely to grow legs.

And so we have an unfortunate clash between officious nanny state bureaucrats, and fan groups who think that following Dublin entails becoming part of some cult in which we all support Hamas, oppose Irish Water, and define ourselves by hating people from other parts of the country.

God help us. And up the Dubs.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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