Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

GAA faces an uphill struggle

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

I read with some bemusement the letter from Tony Fearon (Write Back, August 16) claiming that the GAA is giving the lead in tackling sectarianism. I presume he is being highly ironic - the GAA is the only sectarian sporting organisation in the world.

Perhaps Mr Fearon could inform us as to how many Protestants are in the Northern Ireland county GAA football and hurling teams, at all levels and including male and female teams? None!

The reason there are few incidents of sectarianism in the GAA is that the entire organisation is mono-cultural and systemically and endemically sectarian.

This was proved conclusively when the only Protestant GAA player in Fermanagh, Darren Graham, was subjected to sectarian abuse from opposition supporters.

He was told GAA was a Catholic sport and that Protestants should stay away.

It would therefore be a very sad and sorry day if other sports were to copy the GAA as suggested by Mr Fearon. This would mean, for example, that soccer should ensure that no Catholics played the sport, that clubs, grounds and trophies would be named after dead loyalist terrorists, and that only Protestant clergy would hold positions of authority in clubs and associations.

Not a very wholesome state of affairs.

The GAA has considerable work to do to free the organisation from the deep-rooted shackles of their sectarian past. I wish them well but I also wish they would begin this process sooner rather than later.

John Robinson, Belfast

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