Sunday, 7 June 2015

The nearest of neighbours
can be the best of friends

Clip-clop ... a firm but gentle presence in Temple Bar this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

I was in Temple Bar this evening, celebrating a family birthday.

Twenty years ago, the atmosphere in Dublin after an Ireland v England international football match was very different. Why was it so different this evening?

No-one expects problems after an Ireland v England rugby match or cricket fixture. But this afternoon’s match in Dublin was a real test that relations between two neighbours had moved on to a better plane.

Close neighbours should be the best of friends too. But it is also true that good fences make good neighbours.

This evening there was a very firm, but gentle policing presence throughout Temple Bar. There were gardai on every street corner, standing in clusters of two to six. No policeman was on his or her own. Most were on foot, some were in patrol cars, some were in unmarked cars, a few were going around in pairs on bicycles, and every now and then you could hear the clip-clop of patrols on horseback.

Firm but gentle presence marked the police patrols throughout the evening. As we parked the car and worked our way through Temple Bar, cans of beer were being confiscated gently but firmly from anyone drinking on the street.

Strolling back through Temple Bar this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

After a pleasant dinner in the Italian Corner, we strolled back through Temple Bar.

A young woman who had spread herself on the ground, with a group of young men gathered around her, was quickly spotted. She was told to stand up and was called aside. Nobody murmured, nobody questioned, nobody challenged, and nobody was charged.

Twenty years later we have all moved on. Ireland’s favourite Englishman, Jack Charlton, got a standing ovation from both crowds of supporters. Yes, near neighbours can be the best of friends. The only ribadlry was cheering and jeering about the €5 million John Delnaey had accepted from FIFA ... and that, I suppose, is what you could describe as an own goal.

A draw may have kept everyone quiet in Lansdowne Road this afternoon. But it looked like a win-win situation for everyone in Temple Bar this evening.

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