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Protests (again) on the Streets of Cork

Once again, a city I'm visiting took to the streets en masse, in protest. An estimated 1,500 people filled the streets of Cork 29 May in a nearly spontaneous protest organized that day.

Compare the percentages to Dublin's rally. 2,500 people took to the streets of Dublin for the Anti-Gardai violence rally, out of a population of one million, while 1,500 people take to the streets out of a population of 150,000. And what were these people protesting? Roy Keane, and his unfair treatment. Who is Keane? A political prisoner, another victim of Gardai violence, or a simple working man? No. He's a footballer. It was, after all, three days before Ireland's first World Cup game, against Cameroon. The World Cup is big business, pretty much shutting down the country every time they have a game. Guiness estimated that it'd sell over a million pints of the frothy stuff A DAY during the World Cup. Big business.

And most of the Irish tension around the World Cup centered for a week on Roy Keane. Keane is probably the best footballer to come out of Ireland in decades. So much so that he did actually come out of Ireland, going to play professionally for Manchester United, the behemoth of English football clubs-- the equivalent of the New York Yankees or the Montreal Canadiens in terms of football franchises.

As Ireland's best footballer, he's also their team captain; the guy put in the position to be the spokesman for a team. This is what got him into trouble and led to people taking to the streets to support him. First, the travel arrangements for the Irish team to Japan were shoddy--the team siting in economy class for twenty hours, while the F.A.I. (Irish football officials) sat in first class. Then, the facilities in Japan turned out to be woefully inadequate; not only were their rooms dodgy, but the practice pitch was horrible, rocky, uneven, a broken or twisted ankle just waiting to happen.

As the team captain, Roy Keane made their frustrations abundantly clear to the coach and to the media, and that's where the trouble began. The coach, a real bastard by the name of Mick McCarthy took Roy Keane's complaints as rebellion and booted him off the squad.

And so began a week of frantic scurrying on behalf of everyone in Ireland, all pulling for Keane to make an apology of sorts so that McCarthy would let him get back on the squad, or pressuring McCarthy to give in and let him back on withou an apology. Every radio station devotes the lion's share of their airtime to the fiasco, the T.V. couldn't stop talking about it, and the newspapers received five times more mail in response to the Keane/McCarthy bit than they did in response to the 11 September tragedy.

And, on that 28th of May, 1,500 people took to the streets in a show of solidarity for Roy Keane. But nothing came of it. Neither Keane or McCarthy backed down, and it continued to be the dead issue that no one could stop talking about.


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This page last updated on 10 May, 2002. Ole!
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