Friday, November 25, 2005

"Republic of Ireland Prime Minister Bertie Ahern led tributes, describing Best as one of his "one of the best players the world has ever seen". "

Thus does the BBC describe the initial reactions to George Best's death. A question arose for me from this intrusion of politics into someone's passing away: given that Best was Northern Irish, and Protestant, and played his football mainly in England, what on earth has Bertie Aherne got to do with it? Does the world know that Ahern has less cause to be the 'leader' of tributes to George Best than dozens of British people who have been involved in Best's career (eg. Denis Law, Bobby Charlton- even Jack Charton if they wanted an Irish flavour)? It's very doubtful that the world knows that. It's rather more likely that they assume that Best, who played in the green used by Northern Ireland, would be a representative of the green of the Ireland they idealise and think they know.

I had a look on Google to see if Best had shown any sign of being psychologically allied to the country of which Aherne is the leader. I found nothing (scanning some nice articles) except reiteration of his Protestant origins- him frequently referred to as homesick for Belfast and him being a boy from Ulster, as well as being a saviour of British football in his numerous wanderings in Britain, but only once, very briefly, in Southern Ireland- and one reference - reported by the Beeb in terribly emphatic style given the political backdrop- to his desire for a world class all-Ireland team. He even spent time in one of HM's British prisons. As the sum total of my pro-nationalist findings it's hardly a ringing endorsement for his Eireishness. Indeed Best seems to have been determinedly quiet about politics. Why then use essentially a foreign politician -foreign to Best's nationality, foreign to his history- to lead the tributes; especially one with so little to say?

I've no doubt that Tony Blair himself, without justification, would defer to Bertie in this matter. His motive is appeasement of Irish Nationalist aspirations. It would seem this attitude is at best shared by the BBC.

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