12 February 2006

GAA fury at Mail's slur over Sam Maguire parade

Sunday Independent

THE GAA has described as "disgraceful" an article in Ireland on Sunday's parent title the Mail on Sunday, which said that the recent parading of the Sam Maguire trophy at Celtic's football ground demonstrated links between the club's fans and the IRA.

The article, which was kept out of the Mail's Irish editions, claimed the club was "at the centre of the storm after agreeing to allow a football trophy named after an IRA intelligence chief to be paraded around Celtic Park despite the club's insistence that it 'condemns' support for paramilitary organisations".

The attack on one of Ireland's most revered and iconic sporting trophies was published after All-Ireland champions Tyrone were allowed to take the Sam Maguire Cup on a special lap of honour of the ground before the SPL match with Dundee United on January 28.

The Mail on Sunday, which shares much of its content with Ireland on Sunday and whose parent company last week launched the Irish Daily Mail, said Sam Maguire's role in the IRA around the time of the Easter Rising in 1916 was a "major embarrassment for Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell".

The Mail has a long history of virulent anti-Irishness, but even seasoned observers were surprised by the tone of the story. A GAA spokesman said that Celtic had forwarded the article to the GAA but the two organisations agreed it was so "laughable" they intend to take no further action.

He added: "The Sam Maguire Cup was named in honour of the man's sterling work as secretary of the London County Board, and not for anything he did for the cause of national independence - however worthy. In short, I consider this a disgraceful piece."

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