In the wake of the controversy about a GAA club handing children medals honouring an IRA terrorist, another GAA club seems keen to promote Irish republicanism amongst children.
According to an article in the Andersonstown News (2 June 2012), the O'Donovan Rossa GAC hosted an Under 10 hurling tournament at Rossa Park, Shaw's Road, in West Belfast on Monday 4 June. The tournament was for 'the inaugural Joe McKelvey Cup' and involved sixteen clubs from all over Ireland.
The Andersonstown News then explained the significance of the name Joe McKelvey, who was in fact a chief of staff of the IRA. According to the report:
The Premier Club is hosting the tournament to honour Joe McKelvey, a founding member of the club back in 1916. McKelvey died on December 8, 1922 when he was executed during the Irish Civil War. He is famously remembered for his role in the Irish Republican Army and he participated in the anti-Treaty repudiation of the authority of the Dail in March of the same year as he was execution (sic). Prior to his death he was elected to the IRA Army Executive and in April 1922 he helped command the occupation of the Four Courts in defiance of the new Irish Free State, which sparked the Irish Civil War. In June 1922 McKelvey became IRA Chief of State.
McKelvey grew up in Belfast and joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Volunteers. He was also a founder member of the O'Donovan Rossa club in 1916. This was at a time when republicans established a number of GAA clubs as a recruiting ground and as a cover for other activities. During the War of Independence he commanded the Belfast brigade of the IRA and during the Civil War he fought with the Anti-Treaty IRA in Dublin. He was captured by the Free State forces when the Four Courts was taken in June 1922 and executed by a firing squad on 8 December 1922.
The GAA may talk of reaching out to unionists but they contradict that when clubs name trophies after IRA leaders such as Joe McKelvey. Their actions speak louder than their words.
It is also interesting that this was a competition for young children, as was the competition in Galbally. These GAA clubs seem determined to use their sport to endorse and reinforce militant Irish republicanism amongst another generation of impressionable children.