Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Racism row a step closer to being resolved

Aaron Cunningham of Crossmaglen Rangers is at the centre of racism row

An interim report on the racism controversy that surrounded the Ulster club final will be presented to the Ulster Council tonight.



It is the first step of any potential action being brought against players of the Kilcoo club, after Crossmaglen Rangers forward Aaron Cunningham alleged that he was the subject of racist abuse during the final.

While the identity and make-up of the committee who are investigating this particular case will remain out of the public domain, Ulster GAA President Aoghan Farrell stated at last night’s launch of the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup that he expects the matter to be dealt with soon.

“It’s very difficult to be confident,” he said when asked if a resolution is likely to be reached before Christmas.

“We set up the investigation and we can’t instruct, but we advised the people carrying out the investigation that it should be swift.”

He continued: “I will still stand by that and on Thursday night we will have a meeting and possibly I will have an interim report.

“I don’t know if there will be a final one or not because I’m not allowed to interfere or contaminate the process and I won’t do that,” he said.

“I would like it to be swift in the interests of everybody.”

Farrell echoed the sentiments of GAA President Liam O'Neill when he stated that all abuse connected with the GAA is concerning.

“In a general way, as a citizen of this country I’m disturbed when people are bullied or harassed or upset and it doesn’t matter who they are.

“Nobody should be. All abuse is wrong, it doesn’t matter who it is,” he said.

When asked if the evidence of neutral witnesses such as the Gaelic Games commentator Mark Sidebottom — who has claimed that he heard racist abuse from supporters directed towards Aaron Cunningham, son of former GAA and soccer star Joey Cunningham — will be taken into consideration as part of a wider investigation into racist abuse on the day, Farrell conceded that he is not privy to the particulars of the investigation.

“I don’t know who our enquiry has spoken to.

“I wouldn’t be party as to who has come forward or who hasn't,” he said.

Farrell also added that the investigating body were not given any guidelines regarding a deadline.

He said: “You can’t do that in the GAA because when the enquiry starts you could find something that makes it very quick or you could find something that could take a little longer.”

Farrell continued: “Certainly there was, and there was very strong advice given by me as chairman, that I wanted this concluded as fast as possible and I’m happy that that is happening.”

He added: “I trust that the people on the committee are working as advised.”

Armagh champions Crossmaglen Rangers defeated Down kingpins Kilcoo 3-9 to 1-9 in the Ulster final at the Athletic Grounds earlier this month.

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