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Foreign Affairs said Fitzgerald should not get Army leave for Lions SA tour

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  • Foreign Affairs said Fitzgerald should not get Army leave for Lions SA tour

    Foreign Affairs said Fitzgerald should not get Army leave for Lions SA tour

    ALISON HEALY

    INTERNATIONAL SPORT: THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs recommended that Ciarán Fitzgerald should not be granted special leave from the Defence Forces to go on the controversial Lions tour of South Africa, in view of the government’s views on apartheid.

    The Department of Defence had written to the Department of Foreign Affairs after the Irish Rugby Football Union had asked Fitzgerald to declare whether or not he would be available for the tour in 1980.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs said its minister recommended that no special leave facilities be granted “in light of the Government’s condemnation of the apartheid policies of South Africa, its support for the Olympic principle of non-discrimination in sport and its stated opposition to Irish participation in the proposed ‘Lions’ rugby tour of South Africa”.

    The 1980 tour, without Fitzgerald, was not a successful one for the visitors, with Bill Beaumont’s injury-hit squad losing 3-1 to the Springboks.

    While the State papers contain many letters in support of the government’s stance on apartheid, one writer urged the government to put a stop to the “antics” of Kader Asmal, then chairman of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement. The writer, a woman from Terenure, Dublin, wrote that Asmal had an “outsize chip on his shoulder” and had been “peddling hatred” since he came to Ireland.

    “This man should be happy and grateful to be allowed live here,” she wrote to taoiseach Charles Haughey.“I sincerely hope that someone will put a stop to Mr Asmal’s antics before this country descends to being a laughing stock in the civilised world, or we may have reached the stage when we are being ruled by a coloured foreigner instead of by our elected Government.”

    Asmal later served in Nelson Mandela’s first government in South Africa and was minister of water affairs and forestry, and minister of education.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    GATE-CRASHING rugby fans and “excessive breakage” during post-match receptions at the Irish embassy in Paris caused the ambassador to restrict invitations ahead of a match party in 1980.

    This is revealed in a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs State papers by ambassador Hugh McCann to the IRFU about its request for a reception for the France v Ireland match in Paris in March 1980.

    The reception held for a rugby match in 1978 was “marred by the extent of gate-crashing” and the “impersonation of others to whom invitations had been issued”, McCann wrote.

    He also raised concern about the “excessive breakage, especially toward the end of the evening, long after the reception was scheduled to have ended”.

    The pressure for invitations from the “ever-growing” number of fans was a “source of embarrassment”, Mr McCann wrote. However, these criticisms did not apply to the teams or officials “for whom the reception was intended”, he said.

    The invitation list would be devoted to Irish and French teams and officials as well as “French personalities” important for the export trade.

    In February 1980, the embassy wrote to the department of foreign affairs to tell it that there would be 450 people invited to the reception.

    “We are going to have a problem with gate-crashers but we will do the best we can to prevent this without causing inconvenience,” Mr McCann said.

    The embassy was sending letters of explanation to people who were seeking an invitation but would not be invited.

    The sample letter refusing invitations does not mention gate- crashers – but says the impossibility of acceding to all requests was a “source of embarrassment”.

    Ireland were defeated by one point, 19-18, while scoring the highest ever total by an Irish side in Paris.

    The Irish Times match report described the game as “the material of frustration”.

    GENEVIEVE CARBERY

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...286544569.html
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

  • #2
    i reckon he should have gone and not been used as a pawn in a bigger game.
    RGJ

    ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

    The Rifles

    Comment


    • #3
      Different times RGJ. To do so would not have been good for his career, either on the pitch or in uniform.
      Indeed the sport of rugby suffered greatly from allowing itself to participate in South Africa, while the rest of the world had a Trade Embargo against the Apartheid regieme. Only in 1995 did the international game come in from the cold.

      There was a very good series on TG4 recently about the history of Rugby in Ireland. In the 70s and 8s the Boks, and south African rugby were considered the Poster Boys for Apartheid. They were an all white team even before Apartheid was introduced. Indeed it is only since 2007 that they have fielded more than one non white player.


      Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

      Comment


      • #4
        probably, i was only 9 at the time so i can only go by my life experiences now and i feel commiting to something is usually far better than abstaining.
        RGJ

        ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

        The Rifles

        Comment


        • #5
          No. The embargo was quite strong. Many entertainers who ignored the embargo had their careers ruined. Queen were only saved by their attendance at Live Aid.


          Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

          Comment


          • #6
            fair one but you only live once and i'm sure Freddie Mercury was probably glad he did both.

            with hindsight it's obviously very easy for me to say that but i'm sure it was a very big decision at the time for Queen, and the Irish Government.

            the team went anyhow, would have been good to have him there.
            Last edited by RoyalGreenJacket; 31 December 2010, 14:18.
            RGJ

            ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

            The Rifles

            Comment


            • #7
              No it wouldn't.

              They lost to a team the world hated. The Lions at the time were English dominated, and he would have spend the last days of his (non professional) rugby career on the bench, to return home as a Pariah.
              As you say, you were only 8.
              It was a very very different time.


              Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

              Comment


              • #8
                Just 4 years later 1 worker in Dunnes Stores refused to handle South African oranges (following a union directive) she was suspended from work and others walked off the job in support, that strike went on for 2.5 years.

                The Irish Government banned the sale of products produced in South Africa in April 1987.

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