‘The chant that won’t seem to go away’

Controversy follows soccer victory

Sir, – Having read Una Mullally’s article, I hope I am forgiven for remembering Enniskillen, Mullaghmore, the Abercorn, etc, and for not having the grace to mythologise murder, on all sides (“What does it mean to say ‘Up the ‘Ra’? And why does it keep happening?”, Opinion & Analysis, Online, October 13th).

If this new youthful " republicanism” is meant to be forward-thinking, then God help us all. I am sure unionists cannot wait to be part of such a republic.

As for older generations having been indoctrinated, that is true.

However, the apple does not fall far from the tree, as the young sing songs in praise of the cruel actions of the indoctrinated! – Yours, etc,




Dublin 24.

Sir, – I must admit that I was totally exhausted (undoubtedly because of my age) by the time I finished reading Una Mullally’s rhetorical rationalisation for why chanting “Up the Ra” by the Irish women’s soccer team should not have appalled me – even if such words are “offensive to victims of the Troubles-era IRA”, as Mullally admits.

I was, however, grateful to learn (better late than never), as a 65-year-old soccer fan and nationalist, how I “don’t understand the contemporary context, how Irish culture is moving, and where the politics impacted by that culture is going”.

I now realise that to be appalled is to appear “tedious to many young people” and not to fully appreciate the younger generations’ “decontextualisation of republicanism” – as well as “the older generations’ squeamishness regarding republicanism”.

Inexcusably, I also failed completely to recognise how important it is “to own it if you’re going to say it”, which Mullally points out is “the scary thing for older generations”.

Clearly, I need to get some grinds in contexts and decontextualisations and how to confront things that scare me, before, as Mullally depressingly predicts, I become “even more discombobulated as Irish republicanism and nationalism grow”.

I also need to accept that the IRA-atrocities of our recent past had a “context” and a “reason”; so, best not to think too much about the victims and their families.

It’s hard to believe that I could have been so misguided, and so old, to have ever thought that chanting “Up the Ra” by the Irish women’s soccer team could have been disrespectful, offensive, and appalling. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – For someone who lived thought the horrors of the Northern Ireland Troubles, the recent incident concerning the Irish women’s national soccer team’s singing of a well-known IRA “song” is very disappointing.

I can only assume from the young ages of the team that this incident was a result of sheer ignorance rather than anything else.

One of the most disturbing features of contemporary Ireland is the almost universal ignorance among the younger generation of the Northern Troubles, in particular an ignorance of the shocking number of murders and bombings committed by the Provisional IRA in the name of the Irish people.

However, this ignorance is not confined to the younger generation. During a Cork city byelection some years ago, I phoned several candidates and asked them to name even one member of Sinn Féin who was involved in IRA violence. Not one of them could do so, and indeed some of them were even indignant at the very question posed.

What hope is there when even people going for election to the Dáil are completely ignorant of the IRA’s recent past and its strong associations with its political wing, Sinn Féin.

In this context, is it futile to remind people that Sinn Féin’s Mary McArdle was part of an IRA gang that gunned down 23-year-old Mary Travers in cold blood; that Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly was part of an IRA gang that exploded a bomb in central London, maiming more than 200 people; that Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams, chief apologist for 30 years of IRA terror, claimed that the IRA psychopaths that kidnapped, tortured and murdered Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver should never have to face the courts because it was a “political” killing; that Sinn Fein’s leader, Mary Lou McDonald has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Provisional IRA; and that Sinn Féin contains many ex-Provo activists in its ranks? – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Una Mullally twice claims in her article that the chanting by the Irish women’s football team is “offensive to victims of the Troubles-era IRA”, as if only direct victims of their violence have the right to be offended.

That is ridiculous.

I, along with countless others, am offended by the glorification of a terrorist organisation, one that caused profound suffering to so many over decades and one that this country has worked hard to emerge from the shadow it has cast over it. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Una Mullally asks what does it mean to say “Up the ‘Ra” and why does it keep happening?

I suggest that Una could ask Sinn Féin’s Waterford TD David Cullinane, who found himself in the same celebratory emotional exuberance as our superb women’s soccer team, after he topped the poll in February 2020.

Mr Cullinane certaintly knew what it meant because he articulated it very well at the time, without any apology.

He said his pro-IRA comments “were about the past ... not about the future”. He also said, “the IRA is gone, as everyone knows, and I celebrate that, the same as everyone else”.

Sin é! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – If a footballer sings a song in a forest and no-one is around, is it still necessary for the FAI to apologise and Uefa to hold an inquiry? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.

Sir, – Attending a wedding before Covid hit, I was shocked and surprised to see people dancing to the Wolfe Tones tune that has got the Irish women’s team into so much trouble. The wedding was of course hundreds of miles from the Border and those dancing were all too young to remember the pictures of mangled bodies that haunted previous generations. It became obvious to me as I watched the dancers that Ireland was no longer a place cursed by an inability to forget its history. Now it has become a country with a tragic blindness towards its own recent past. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Perhaps the recent escapade involving the women’s soccer team makes the strongest argument for all-island teams, both men’s and women’s. I doubt the same caper would have taken place in any changing room involving any of the other all-island sporting codes. The mixing of all creeds and ethnicities is far better than any postmatch penalties.

A hard lesson learned. Now move on. – Yours, etc,



Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Will the singing in the changing rooms of our successful women’s team increase or decrease voting projections for parties at the next election? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – The main thing I noticed about the online and offline kerfuffle over the women’s soccer “celebrations” is that anyone who objects to the chant is derided as a “West Brit”, despite the IRA’s record of murdering Irish men and women.

Hardly surprising perhaps, but I noticed how many of the “anti-West Brits” support British football teams, seem immersed in British popular culture, and are unable to string together a sentence in Irish.

Irish culture is really in a poor and insecure place when a hooligan’s terrace chant is seen as the apogee of national self-identity for so many people. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.