Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:
“Peter Robinson’s address to the GAA last night illustrates just how far the DUP have departed from many ordinary Unionists. I think Jim Wells was probably more in tune with the mood on the ground when, in September 2010, he said Unionists where “being made to feel isolated and under siege in their own homes” because of the display of GAA regalia throughout Co Down. What a shift there has been even since June of this year when DUP MEP Diane Dodds described the award of the EU’s European Citizens’ Prize to the GAA as “premature” because “many in Northern Ireland see the GAA as a political organisation as much as a sporting one.”
“Yet last night Peter Robinson was addressing a dinner celebrating the efforts of the GAA to build community relations!
“Why was it wrong for the GAA to receive a reward for building “cross-border cooperation within the EU or promote better mutual understanding and closer integration between citizens and member states” in June but correct for the DUP leader to address an event which acknowledged the supposed efforts of the Gaelic Athletic Association to forge better community relations in October?
“Just what has changed in the GAA in the past four months? Does Mrs Dodds now believe that what she said in June was wrong or does she agree with her party leader’s attendance at an event which lauded the GAA in a similar fashion to the European Citizens’ Prize?
“The rules of the GAA as carried today on the organisation’s website are clear. The following are quotes from the forward:
“Those who play its games, those who organise its activities and those who control its destinies see in the G.A.A. a means of consolidating our Irish identity. The games to them are more than games – they have a national significance”
“Since she has not control over all the national territory, Ireland’s claim to nationhood is impaired.”
“Today, the native games take on a new significance when it is realised that they have been a part, and still are a part, of the Nation’s desire to live her own life, to govern her own affairs.”
“Rule 1.2 reads: “Basic Aim The Association is a National Organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity in a 32 County Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic Games and pastimes.”
“In recent days a GAA club in Tyrone distributed medals to Under 12s featuring an IRA terrorist. At the time a spokesman for the GAA’s Ulster Council said: “The Ulster Council has no comment to make until we receive official notification from the individual involved.”
“A year later the GAA had still not responded to a number of letters about the issue from UUP MLA Sandra Overend.
“We still have the Kevin Lynch hurling club, and events named after terrorists such as Joe Cahill, Mairead Farrell, Martin Hurson, Michael McVerry as well as a large number of others.”