Wednesday, 10 August 2011

GAA and Irish republicanism

Charity ‘has no involvement in IRA event’ - Local - News Letter
The Marie Curie charity has denied any involvement in or association with a tug of war competition named after an IRA terrorist who blew himself up.

The competition is named in memory of Seamus Woods, a member of the IRA who was killed on 7 July 1988 when a bomb he was taking to Pomeroy police station exploded prematurely, and it is due to take place at the Pomeroy Plunkett's GAA Club on Saturday.

Posters advertising the compeition include the logo of the Marie Curie charity but the charity has denied any connection with the event.

The event is described as an annual compeition and it has certainly been going since 2009, if not earlier.  The 2009 event included sixteen teams, all drawn from GAA clubs in Tyrone.  It is therefore an issue that involves more that just the one GAA club.  However this seems to be the first year that it has  attracted significant public comment.

So what then of the use of a GAA ground for an event that honours an IRA terrorist?  It is interesting that it is advertised on the website of the GAA club in Pomeroy but that advertisement does not mention Seamus Woods.  It merely refers to a tug of war compeition.

All of this raises questions for the Ulster Council of the GAA, which is the regional governing body.

In recent years the GAA has sought to present a more open and inclusive image, including outreach to Protestant children in some controlled schools.  However  events such as this show that a substantial section of the GAA in Tyrone is stuck in the past.

The Ulster Council may decide to turn a blind eye to what happens in Pomeroy but if it does so it will merely encourage those in the GAA who are intransigent and who wish to glorify terrorism.

The action or inaction of the GAA over the next few days will be very interesting.