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Former President Jack was a shining light during difficult time

By Declan Bogue

Published 11/05/2016

Trailblazer: The late Jack Boothman was the first Protestant President of the GAA
Trailblazer: The late Jack Boothman was the first Protestant President of the GAA

On a visit to a school in Ulster during his GAA Presidency, Jack Boothman told a teacher that while some days were not as great as others, he had never had a bad day.

Perhaps that was a secret of the positivity that underpinned his spell in charge of the Association, following Peter Quinn, from 1994 to 1997.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of this column took a call from Boothman, who asked him for the contact details of Shane Lowry's parents so he could tell them how proud their son made him.

A vet by profession, Boothman sported an enormous scar on his head as a result of an encounter with a disgruntled animal.

A lot of the tributes that have followed since his passing have spoken of his avuncular way and his easy camaraderie. The first Protestant President of the GAA, he was instrumental in preparing the ground work for the abolition of Rule 21 which prohibited members of the security forces in Northern Ireland from playing Gaelic Games.

He was also an opponent of soccer and rugby games being played in Croke Park.

The unfortunate thing is that it is much more prevalent south of the border to be a Protestant member of the GAA, although there is ample evidence of the two traditional communities playing Gaelic Games presently at under-age level.

Boothman was a tower of support to the Bellaghy club in May 1997, when their Chairman Sean Browne was abducted and murdered after locking up the clubrooms.

In a difficult time to be a figurehead of the Association, he was the ideal man.

Belfast Telegraph

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