Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Attitude of denial will not stop sectarianism in sport

Letters to the editor should be sent to: 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB. E-mail: writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Your anonymous correspondent Dazzled's response to my previous letter (Write Back, August 22) on the Darren Graham issue manifests the thoughts of someone who is in a serious state of confusion and denial.

In my original letter I simply praised the swift action of the GAA in dealing with allegations of sectarian abuse made by Fermanagh County hurler Darren Graham, and the player himself seemed to be suitably impressed with the support forthcoming that he indicated his willingness to consider returning to the sport.

For Dazzled's information, Mr Graham never, at any stage, alleged that he was on the receiving end of sectarian abuse from his own team-mates or supporters. Also, Neil Lennon, in his recent biography, alluded to the lack of support he perceived to be forthcoming from the IFA at the time he received a death threat, yet Dazzled would ridiculously attempt to infer that Neil's own supporters never abused him. This persuaded Neil to retire, a decision he made irrevocably.

These are irrefutable facts and Dazzled's laughable attempts to deny them are exactly the point I was trying to make in my original letter. All sports should take any form of sectarian abuse seriously and take immediate steps to eradicate it, but adopting the attitude of denial, or blaming it all on cranks with 20p pieces, as Dazzled typically does, is certainly not the way to go.

As for his tiresome reference to the IFA's Football for All Campaign, surely this has been an abject failure? The words 'No Surrender' are clearly audible each time the English National Anthem is played at Windsor Park. The campaign has failed miserably to make even a tiny dent in the mono-cultural support for the Northern Ireland team at Windsor Park.

It is time Dazzled woke up and smelt the coffee and stopped living in denial.

Tony Fearon, Poyntzpass

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