Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Another GAA trophy named after IRA terrorists

The Derry Intermediate Football Club Championship (currently known for sponsorship reasons as the M&L Contracts Derry Intermediate Football Club Championship) is an annual Gaelic football club competition between the intermediate (second tier) clubs in County Londonderry. The winners of the Derry Championship qualify to represent their county in the Ulster Intermediate Club Football Championship and if they win Ulster, advance to the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championship. The current Derry Intermediate County Champions are Castledawson who became champions with a 0-11 to 0-10 win over Steelstown on 3 October 2010.

The trophy for which they compete is named after John Bateson (aged 19), James Sheridan (20) and Martin Lee (18), all members of the South Derry Brigade of the Provisional IRA who died when a bomb they were priming exploded prematurely in Magherafelt on 18 December 1971.  All three men came from Ballymaguigan and played for the St. Trea's GFC at Ballymaguigan.  The three IRA men are commemorated and celebrated in a republican song entitled The Ballymaguigan Martyrs.

This is not the only GAA trophy in County Londonderry to be named after members of the Provisional IRA. 

The Hughes/McElwee Cup is a 13 a side (as opposed to the usual 15) knock-out competition for the top Minor clubs in South Londonderry. It is named after Francis Hughes and Thomas McElwee, two cousins from Bellaghy, who were members of the Provisional IRA and died on hunger strike in 1981.  This is a new tournament which was inaugurated in 2008.
The GAA has made some progress in 'normalising' itself and removing the association with militant republicanism but it is clear that there is still some way to go. 


  1. If a DUP Minister for Sports cannot do anything about public funding for the GAA, then what should we expect if Provisional IRA/Sinn Fein criminals take over your department in the future?

    It seems that the GAA can do whatever they want yet all other organisations have to undergo stringent checks.

    A few NI fans sing a song in Dublin and it makes headline news. The GAA continues to associate itself with terrorists guilty of murder and there are no headlines on the BBC or UTV and the ordinary tax payer is still asked to fund the GAA.

    Can I suggest that the GAA should be clearly told that they need to move away from militant Republican politics or they don't get any more public money i.e. they need to stop playing the RoI anthem in NI and stop flying the RoI flag in NI; they need to stop naming grounds and trophies after terrorists; they need to stop allowing their grounds to be used for terrorist celebrations; they need to make their venues neutral environments open to the whole community if the whole community is paying for them.

    I would like to see the GAA become a full part of society in Northern Ireland. But it seems that they will never change if an action plan is not put in place.

  2. I have spoken directly to the GAA leadership in Ulster about these matters on a number of occasions and there has been some progress, for example, in relation to the use of GAA grounds for republican commemorations.

    However the media has not given these issues the attention they deserve.

    I will write a separate post about this shortly.


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