Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Naming of clubs a matter for GAA, says Tanaiste

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore praised Peter Robinson's speech on Thursday night to a Co-Operation Ireland event in Belfast
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore praised Peter Robinson's speech on Thursday night to a Co-Operation Ireland event in Belfast

The Republic's deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore has said the naming of clubs after dead republican paramilitaries is a matter for the GAA.

Amid fallout over Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson commending the association's peace-building efforts, Mr Gilmore said the focus should not be on the past but on the work needed to help forge better community relations in Northern Ireland.

 

"I think these are issues that the GAA decides. What we have to work at here is how we build bridges, how we move beyond the difficulties of the past," the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

 

Mr Gilmore, at the Derry Chamber of Commerce annual dinner last night, praised Mr Robinson's speech on Thursday night to a Co-Operation Ireland event in Belfast. He said it was timely and courageous.

 

Earlier, leading GAA pundit Joe Brolly suggested it was nobody else's business if GAA clubs were named after dead republican paramilitaries.

 

In the wake of Mr Robinson's address, some unionists insisted the association still had much to do to improve relations with their community, highlighting the issue of the naming of clubs and competitions after IRA and INLA members.

 

But former All-Ireland winner Mr Brolly, whose hometown club in Dungiven, Co Derry, is named after republican hunger striker Kevin Lynch, said the name issue was a "sideshow".

 

"It's nobody else's business - it's as simple as that," he said of the Dungiven club's name. "People can either like it or lump it.

 

"That's the way societies and communities work. Kevin played hurling for Dungiven and for Derry, and the hurling club was named for that reason. We're very proud of him."

 

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister criticised Mr Brolly's stance. "The remarks by Joe Brolly underscore just how foolish Peter Robinson was in attending last night's event and praising the GAA for supposedly reaching out across the divide," he said.

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