Saipan Incident – An Introduction
This is my attempt to analyse the Saipan incident of 2002 and the events leading up to it. The events in Saipan convulsed the Irish nation. In my certain memory there has never been an incident quite like it that so polarised wide segments of the Irish people. I don’t know any Irish person that doesn’t have a strong view on the Saipan affair and I don’t know anyone that doesn’t firmly side with one or other of the two main protagonists in the drama that was played out in the Far East. The middle ground is very sparsely populated indeed. If you’re Irish you’ll get what I’m saying and if you’re not you’ll probably think that I’m exaggerating, or mad, or both.
When the Saipan incident unfolded a wondrous dichotomy was born that has cleaved the Irish psyche. Perhaps only the passage of time will bring relief. When I first heard the news that the Irish manager Mick McCarthy had sent the Irish captain, and our best player, Roy Keane home I was truly shocked. As the shock subsided and the different versions of events emerged I had no doubt as to whose side I was on. And like almost everyone else in Ireland I have stood steadfastly by my choice ever since. I never seriously questioned my decision – if it was actually a decision. To me it was the obvious conclusion and those on the other side, my polar opposites, were blinded by unthinking loyalty to their man.
In civil wars families can be divided and brother may be pitted against brother. In the period immediately after the news broke that Roy Keane had been sent home from Saipan I recall having many very heated debates with my brother. He is one of the most mild mannered and thinking individuals that one could meet. How was it that he was so blind? How could he be so irritating by holding on to a position that was so patently wrong? His man was clearly offside in the Saipan affair that even a SpecSavers ref could see it. Funny enough his views of me were probably just the same as mine of him.
It’s seven years since Ireland’s JFK moment. This is a seven year itch I couldn’t resist scratching at. However to bring real relief it had to be a serious scratch. I had to scratch deep beneath the surface to find out the real truth behind the eruption that occurred on that volcanic island in the Far East. To do this I had to try to be as dispassionate as possible and leave my deeply held views, nay prejudices, in the dressing room before I crossed the white line. It was difficult but I tried. Only others can determine if I succeeded but no-one should pass judgement on that unless they have read everything that I’ve written and understands the methodology that I used in arriving at my Saipan conclusions. It’s all here in the Saipan Table of Contents.
PS: Apologies for all those irritating soccer metaphors
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