Furore over Gregory Campbell GAA Tyrone comments
Published 23/09/2008 | 13:00
A political row has erupted over comments made by Sports Minister Gregory Campbell after Tyrone won the Sam Maguire Cup.
But Mr Campbell defended his remarks, insisting Tyrone and Kerry are “in different countries”, and therefore the match was an international occasion.
Derry SDLP councillor Mark Durkan accused Mr Campbell of disrespecting the Gaelic games tradition. He said: "Gregory Campbell's comments about what was an outstanding Tyrone victory in the All-Ireland football final were pathetic.
“There will be few Gaels or other sports fans that will be impressed by a Sports Minister saying that he ‘supposes’ the team should be acknowledged on the basis that they were playing in an international game.
“He needs to realise that he has a position of responsibility now and he needs to truly respect the efforts and identities of all sporting traditions.
"He might think he's clever and hope that people may think he was 'having a laugh'.
“But he let the cat out of the bag when he said that even if he had been free he wouldn't have gone to Croke Park.”
In response, Mr Campbell said: "I passed on my best wishes to Co Tyrone GAA football team which obviously is a Northern Ireland team in their victory over Co Kerry GAA Team from the Republic of Ireland in the GAA football final.
“It is a factual position that Tyrone is a county in Northern Ireland and Kerry is a county in the Republic of Ireland . This year's GAA final amounted to an 'international' event. In any international tournament involving a team from Northern Ireland competing with a team from another country, I normally support the team representing Northern Ireland .
”I acknowledge that the GAA as an organisation has made improvements; however there are other areas were they have still much to do.”