The Uniform of Peace

Coach Jonathon Rooney stands with proud pupils from St. Clare’s and Carr’s Glen primary schools

With a new term underway, all of our participants are ironing their PeacePlayers t-shirts, and are getting ready to show off their team spirit. Over the years, PeacePlayers have given out thousands of t-shirts at tournaments, twinnings and events, and even sometimes as prizes and rewards at the end of of program. Each t-shirt is a symbol of peace and represents a time when participants played with kids from “the other side”.

The PSNI Logo contains symbols that are traditionally associated with both communities: The shamrockwith the Nationalist community, whilst the crown with the Loyalist community.

This term we will discuss symbols with our P7 participants and what they represent. In Northern Ireland there are several symbols that can be perceived as negative or intimidating by one community, but as a source of pride to the other. We will discuss several symbols found in Northern Ireland, as well as the history and meaning behind each. Among these include the Irish and British flag, a Chinese dragon, a GAA logo and an Orange Order sash. We will also discuss the PSNI logo (below) and the symbols that are included on the badge.

In addition to symbols, certain uniforms are often associated with a specific community in Northern Ireland. These can be anything from a football jersey to a pipe band uniform. Uniforms are often perceived to be a divisive thing in Northern Ireland; after all, the definition of uniform is “the distinctive clothing of a specific group”.

Pupils from Avoniel and St. Matthew’s primary school cheer on their teammates and hold up their jerseys with pride.

At PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland, our uniform is designed to bring both sides of the community together. Last year, we gave our primary 6 pupils t-shirts with their school name alongside their twinning partner’s school name. During our Super Twinning tournament at the end of the Spring term last year, these t-shirts were turned around and the school names held up in pride. More specifically, during one of the most divisive times in East Belfast last year, the day after violent interface riots, the pupils from St. Matthews and Avoniel primary schools stood proud and cheered on their teammates waving their jerseys like a flag uniting both communities.

As we begin another term and a new batch of twinnings, let’s hope that our “uniform of peace” continues to unite pupils across the city and create “mates” out of teammates.