25 January 2006

GAA man urges unionists to be tolerant

Daily Ireland

Connla Young
25/01/2006

A leading GAA figure in Co Tyrone has called on unionists to show a greater level of tolerance towards Gaelic games. Tyrone county chairman Pat Darcy last night called for an end to verbal attacks directed by unionists at the GAA because many clubs were named after republican and nationalist historical figures. Mr Darcy made the comments days after Scottish MSP Bill Aitken had called for the Sam Maguire Cup to be banned from Glasgow Celtic’s ground.

The Conservative politician branded one-time Irish Republican Brotherhood activist Sam Maguire a “terrorist” after it emerged that all-Ireland football champions Tyrone will parade the cup before Celtic’s game against Dundee United this Saturday. A Protestant from Co Cork, Sam Maguire died in 1927.
Mr Darcy told critics to accept the sporting nature of the GAA and disgard their hang-ups over names.
“Let’s look at Craigavon. It’s named after a man who discriminated against a section of our community for years.

“Look at Windsor Park, named after the royal family, and the Royal Victoria Hospital. We have to tolerate these place names. We have no choice. If I get sick, I have to go to Craigavon hospital or the RVH. I have no choice. But these people do have a choice. Nobody makes them go to Casement Park,” he said.

“We have to accept that these places exist and get on with it. They should do the same, rather than criticise GAA clubs. It’s just an excuse they give for not participating in the GAA.”
West Tyrone Ulster Unionist Party assembly member Derek Hussey told Daily Ireland that his constituents had strong views on the GAA.

“Club and pitch names within the GAA quite often are related to personalities who would have a pre-eminence within what would be regarded by some within the unionist community as republican.
“Sometimes, though, there is selective memory if you consider the case of Tone and Emmet, who came from a Protestant background.

“The greatest difficulty possibly arises when names are associated with those who have been associated with more recent terrorism in Northern Ireland. There is also concern with the ethos that the association has had in the past with regard to the security forces.

“I realise that there would appear to be a gradual sea change within the association in general on issues such as participating and ground use. But we do live in a society that is slow to change,” said Mr Hussey.

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