Thursday, 22 July 2010

GAA and politics

The final of the Volunteer Martin Hurson Gaelic Football Tourament took place on Tuesday 13 July at Pearse Park, Galbally.  The tournament started on 28 June and the GAA teams taking part were McAnespies (Aghaloo), Donaghys (Carrickmore), Corleaghan Emmetts (Clogher), Loughdoo (Kildress), Galbally, Cappagh, Finulagh, Altmore and Hursons. 

The ladies' final was at 2.30. the men's final was at 4.00 and this was followed at 6.00 by the 2010 Tyrone Volunteers Day parade from Galbally Community Centre, which is beside Pearse Park, to the republican memorial in the main street in Cappagh.  The day ended with a function in Boyles bar organised by the new Dwayne O'Donnell Ogra Shinn Fein cumann. 

While some Gaelic football clubs, which are under the authority of the GAA, continue to organise and participate in events to commemorate members of the IRA, the GAA will be perceived to have a republican ethos. 

Meanwhile, on Tuesday 20 July the Belfast Telegraph reported that, 'A new GAA trophy has been named after the founding father of unionism.  Competitors in the first hurling event in the Stormont estate will play for the Edward Carson trophy on Saturday 7 August.'  The report was accompanied by a photograph of Gerry Adams with a hurling stick, close to the Carson memorial statue, and the report said that Adams has helped organise the event.  In fact the event, which is part of the West Belfast Festival, Feile an Phobail, is not actually a hurling match.  The inaugural 'Poc ar an Cnoc' will see hurlers hitting sliotars (hurling balls) up the mile-long Prince of Wales Avenue that leads to Parliament Buildings. 

The BCC report was more extensive and the comments from Gerry Adams were rather interesting.  He said, 'This notion of Gaelic sports being in any way for one section of people here, I think once you just lift the lid of it (that's not the case).'  This suggests that he wants Gaelic sports to be for everyone, including unionists.  If that is so he must realise that the constitution of the GAA is a nationalist constitution, which supports a united Ireland.  It is a constitution which excludes unionists.  If Adams really meant what he said then he would be asking the GAA to change its constitution and drops its nationalist aspiration!  Is that what he meant and is that what he intends to do? 

Adams also said that Carson had played hurling when he was a student at Trinity and then described him as 'a Gael'.  Does he believe that playing a Gaelic game makes the person a Gael?  Dancing a Viennse waltz doesn't make the dancer Viennese! 

The sideshow in the grounds of Stormont got al lthe media coverage but it is very much a sideshow.  On the other hand the Volunteer Martin Hurson event did not attract the same attention from the mainstream media.  In fact it seemed to attract no attention at all.

In the meantime I wait with interest to hear how Gerry Adams answers my two questions.


  1. If nationalist constitutions exclude unionists, is the reverse also true?

    On the second point, Gael has no formal definition, legal or scientific, and the linguistic has ceased to have real meaning. In this context it is simply an identity which one can attach to oneself without necessarily excluding other. It is acknowledged however that the concept has been used to exacerbate divisions between protestants and catholics and nationalists and unionists. If these divisions are something which you wish to challenge, you may perhaps wish to give more oxygen to those who would the used concept is less divisive contexts.

  2. Angus

    I am unaware of any other sporting organisation that has a political statement or aspiration in its constitution.

    If you have not read the GAA constitution in relation to Irish nationalism, I would encourage you to do so.

    Moreover in order to be a member of a GAA club you have to sign up to the GAA constitution. In other words you have to be an Irish nationalist and that excludes unionists.

    As regards the use of the words Gael and Gaelic, it is interesting to look at the use of these terms by Irish cultural nationalists.

    The Irish Ireland movement promoted a cultural and ethnic exclusion, best summarised in the words of D P Moran, 'The foundation of Ireland is the Gael and the Gael must be the element that absorbs.' That again is the language of exclusion rather than inclusion and diversity.

  3. Nelson, would you mind posting the Constitution of the Orange Order and the GAA in the interests of fair play?

  4. Nelson, I found this old news clip and thought it may help the families of the three Soldiers and for others like yourself who keep records etc...

    My sending it is genuine as everyone who died during the recent Conflict deserves to be remembered...

  5. GARC - Perhaps you could explain the point you are trying to get at. The GAA is a sporting organisation. If you want to compare it with another organisation, then compare it with another sporting organisation such as the IFA or the IRFU.

  6. The purpose of your post regarding the GAA was an attempt to link this sporting organisation with Irish Republican militarism etc...Instead of accepting that the Association is in fact primarily involved in sport and culture etc. Grant it yes,some Clubs are named after Irish Patriots who paid a huge price for their activism, hence the titles of Clubs, trophies etc.

    In terms of organisations such as, the Orange Order. What do their Constitutions consist of? Why can no-one read them, why are they hidden from the public?

    If Loyal Orders are Christian and exist for the Civil and religious liberty of all...What's the issue with these organisations publishing these Constitutions online etc?

    Maybe then society as a whole can ask questions that people need answers to!

  7. Your post is simply a diversion from two important facts:
    1. The constitution of the GAA has, as one of its central tenets, a commitment to a 32-county independent Ireland.
    2. To joint a GAA club a person must subscribe to the GAA constitution, including a commitment to a 32-county independent Ireland. That exclcudes unionists and that is what makes the GAA different from any other sporting organisation in Northern Ireland.

    The fact that some GAA clubs organise a Gaelic football competition in memory of an IRA hunger striker is ultimately a matter for the GAA and we will have to see how they propose to deal with it.

  8. Nelson, why don't you announce a review of funding for the GAA? Time and time again, their clubs are used by blood stained terrorists from Provisional Sinn Fein/IRA and the INLA. Why is Government money being used to support such an organisation? A Provisional Sinn Fein/IRA minister of culture wouldn't allocate such large sums of money to UVF/UDA/LVF linked groups. Isn't it time for a DUP minister to review GAA funding under equality laws?

  9. Funding for sport is disbursed by Sport NI, which is an arms-length body with its own board.

    I have met with the GAA about these matters and have made my concerns known to them. I intend to meet with them again in the near future as part of an ongoing conversation in relation to a 'shared and better future'.

    As you will see from earlier posts, this is a matter that I take very seriously.


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