Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Kilcoo fan banned for life over alleged racist abuse

The Ulster Council has hit a fan of Down club Kilcoo with a lifetime ban from GAA activities, following the fall-out from alleged racist abuse at last December's Ulster club final, and another supporter could also receive punishment.

The banned fan has not been named, and the Ulster Council is not commenting publicly on the matter at this time.

The Belfast Telegraph can also reveal that in addition to this the Ulster Council is seeking to punish another Kilcoo supporter, who could be in for a lengthy ban.

Crossmaglen Rangers player Aaron Cunningham alleged he was abused with racist comments during their victory, pointing out two players on the Down side.

Last week, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Aidan Branagan had his initial six-month ban reduced to four months after an appeal to the Ulster Council hearing's committee, and that another player had his ban rescinded.

However, this latest development represents the first time a GAA member has received a lifetime ban for racist abuse, a move that displays the Ulster Council is willing to take stern action in the case of an offence of this nature.

In the immediate aftermath of the Ulster club final, Ulster president Aoghan Farrell said that anyone found guilty of racism would be dealt with “as severely as possible”.

The punishments for two Kilcoo players, however, were met with disappointment by Aaron Cunningham's father Joey, who himself had been subject to racist taunts while playing gaelic football for Armagh, and soccer for Portadown in the Irish League.

Speaking after the news broke last week, Cunningham said: “This verdict is really, really disappointing from my point of view.

“The Ulster Council made all the right noises and said all the right things after this happened so what I'm hearing at the moment is very disappointing.”

The GAA has no official policy on racist abuse, but it is thought that putting such measures in place will be prominent on the agenda by the time of annual congress, held in Derry in March.

Meanwhile, the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup semi-finals will take place on Sunday in the Athletic Grounds as a double header. Monaghan face Down with throw-in at 2pm, and Fermanagh take on Tyrone at 3.45pm.