Friday, 18 October 2013

Division in the GAA

Last night Peter Robinson MLA observed that there have been changes in the GAA and indeed there have.  Some of the old divisive rules have gone and that must be welcomed.  However more needs to be done and there is still a long way to go.
The constitution of the GAA includes a commitment to a United Ireland and requires that a member of the GAA subscribe to that aspiration.  For that reason it is impossible for a unionist to join a GAA club or participate in GAA games.
In addition a number of GAA clubs, grounds and competitions are named after Irish republican terrorists - not IRA men from some historic era but from the recent republican campaign carried out by the Provisional IRA and the INLA.
That is why Peter Robinson told the GAA that it is wrong to use the names of clubs and grounds to eulogise men of violence.  This is a subject that I have addressed on several occasions and a number of posts on this blog contain examples of this practice.

Some GAA leaders agree privately that it is wrong to name GAA clubs and grounds after terrorists but they seem reluctant to remove this blight on their organisation.

Meanwhile other prominent GAA figures want to cling to the past and Joe Brolly was quick to say that the naming of GAA clubs was 'no one else's business'.  'People can either like it or lump it.'  Brolly, who had a successful career in the GAA, is a son of Sinn Fein politicians Francis and Anne Brolly.  Today he said that he was proud that the hurling club in his home town of Dungiven was named after Kevin Lynch, a convicted INLA terrorist.  Brolly used to play for St Canice's GAA Club which shares its ground with the Kevin Lynch hurling club.

There is clearly a division in the GAA over this important matter and Peter Robinson's speech has exposed that division.  The real test for the leadership of the GAA is therefore whether or not they step up to the mark and face down the republican backwoodsmen and the political bigots in their ranks.

No other sporting organisation in Northern Ireland eulogises terrorists and murderers and this aspect of the GAA is a hindrance to building a shared future and a united community.

They have come a considerable distance but there is more to be dome, including the removal of the Irish republican ethos from the GAA constitution and the renaming of clubs and grounds that are currently named after republican terrorists.

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