“No bitterness.” How hockey became an incredible success on the ice in Northern Ireland and beyond

BELFAST, Northern Ireland – A hockey rink may seem like an incredible place to avoid conflict. But deeply groundbreaking BelfastThe Conquering Giants have emerged as an amazing source of non-sectarian pride.

In a country where? Hockey It’s a really foreign game, with a list of mostly Canadians and Americans, and the giants did not live up to their expectations of British sporting success. But more importantly, this foreign game has allowed for the creation of a rare, welcome neutral space that can provide a timely model for the future after a historic election that could transform Northern Ireland politics.

Last week, about 2,000 people paid not to attend the game, but to attend the awards ceremony at the team’s home arena, where long lines of fans waited patiently for a meeting with the players.

The Giants have won five of the last 10 cups on offer. In the newly concluded 2021-22 season, they lifted the Challenge Cup in March, which they won in the regular season of the Elite Hockey League in April, just before the treble earlier this month when they lost to Cardiff Diles. in the playoffs, the prize of which is the third and final cup of the league.

“I did not play sports,” said Craig Kane, who went on to explain how he nevertheless became an instant supporter after being “pulled” into the game by his wife, Michelle. “It simply came to my notice then. It was fast, brutal, fun, ”he said from the packed lobby of the SSE Arena. “Everything was. And it was a family. There was no bitterness. “

Political background:

For so long, this corner of the United Kingdom has been bitterly divided between predominantly Catholic nationalists, the “pro-British Protestant Unionists, the nationalist party.” We ourselves – which advocates unification with the Republic of Ireland, became the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly last weekend for the first time since the partition that formally divided Ireland in 1921.

But while the success of Sinn Féin is significant, the reunification of Ireland will not happen overnight, or even in the near future, in part. Brexit:The complicated rules of distribution of power in the province ը the emergence of a growing number of people who do not recognize as neither unionist nor nationalist.

This is evident from the success of a party called the Alliance, which has achieved the most in the elections with a neutral platform that avoids any sectarian identification. The party doubled its 2017 results to third place, behind Sinn Féin’s Unionist Democratic Ulster Party (DUP), which has been a dominant force for decades and now appears to be in decline.

“I do not think unionism can move forward,” said Peter McLaughlin, of the George Mitchell Institute for Global Peace at the University of Queens. “It tries to go back, it does not know how to go forward.”


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