Trevor Ringland reported recently that he told his wife there is no place for him in Sinn Fein’s Ireland because a leading member would accept “no lectures” from Trevor (‘No space in a new Ireland for me,’ March 23).
A former Ulster unionist and now a Conservative (and Unionist) Party representative, Trevor stomped off in a huff.
Trevor’s delicate attitude, resembling a ‘no shoving please’ plea in a game of rugby, is not new.
His capacity for taking offence was first revealed by Ireland team-mate Donal Lenihan.
In his 2016 memoir Leinihan wrote that in 1985, after winning the Triple Crown, the rugby team broke into a rendition of ‘The Sash’ on the team bus.
When Lenihan once sang ‘Only Our Rivers Run Free’ after ‘The Sash’ on a tour of Japan, “Trevor Ringland took umbrage”.
Trevor lectures nationalists a lot in letters to newspapers.
I suggest that, before composing another one, Trevor consider a couple of recent news items.
I read an account of a sing-song at a Tyrone football club last Saturday.
A song had the refrain, “We hate Catholics, we hate Roman Catholics”.
The same day I saw it reported that the North’s Orange Order would not comment on Scottish Brethren deciding to allow members to darken the door of a Roman Catholic Church.
Both branches of the order maintain a prohibition on marrying Roman Catholics.
Fifty years ago in March 1969, Ivan Cooper, a Protestant civil rights supporter, was in fear for his life running across fields from 200 unionists.
Whatever their feelings about Roman Catholics, the unionists clearly disapproved of a Protestant seeking equality in Northern Ireland’s sectarian state.
Trevor might ask himself how much unionist attitudes, including his own, have changed in the 50 years since that typical incident.
The Sinn Féin leader might listen more sympathetically to Trevor’s lectures if the latter was even handed in his criticisms.
Trevor could start by appreciating the finer points of ‘Only Our Rivers Run Free’.
Unlike ‘The Sash’ or the Tyrone football chant, it does not contain sectarian sentiments.
Trevor’s plea to “make Northern Ireland work” is unrealisable in a statelet that clearly doesn’t.
Maybe, like the Ireland rugby team, an all-Ireland arrangement would be a better bet.
Tom Cooper, Dublin