Belfast Telegraph

Belfast GAA club defends hosting 'Gibraltar 3' event

By Adrian Rutherford and David Young

A GAA club has defended hosting an event which commemorated three IRA members shot dead in Gibraltar.

The DVD screening, which included a talk and a Q&A, was staged at Michael Davitt GAC on the Falls Road in West Belfast.

It took place on March 4 - two days before the anniversary of the SAS shootings on the peninsula.

Mairead Farrell, Sean Savage and Daniel McCann had been on "active service" when they were killed by special forces.

The club said "a local community group" with no political affiliations had booked its clubroom to show the documentary, which, it said, "featured the killing of three local people".

It said it recognised and understood the public interest in the documentary and was "content" that it was facilitated.

However, a DUP MP who had raised concerns over the event said he did not accept the explanation.

The Belfast Telegraph reported earlier this week how a flyer advertising the event appeared on the club's Facebook page.

It read: "The Gibraltar 3, 30th Anniversary Commemorative DVD Showing followed by talk and Q&A by veteran republican Joe Austin."

A Sinn Fein logo is included on the image, as well as pictures of Farrell, Savage and McCann, who were shot dead, two days before they had planned to bomb a parade of the Royal Anglian Regiment in the centre of Gibraltar.

In a statement, the club defended its role in the controversy.

"Michael Davitt GAC was established in 1912, we have almost 450 members and we proudly serve the people of the Beechmount, Clonard and Lower Falls areas," it said.

"We promote the expression of Irish culture and identity through all Gaelic games, the Irish language, traditional music, theatre and dance, along with health and well-being activities.

"Michael Davitt GAC fully supports and complies with the non-party political and non sectarian ethos of the GAA.

"On Sunday, March 4 a local community group which has no affiliations to any political party, having booked our clubroom, showed a documentary which featured the killing of three local people.

"These killings were the subject of condemnation from the European Court of Human Rights when it ruled for the first time on the use by any European Country of lethal force and the right to life."

The statement continued: "We recognise and understand the public interest in such a documentary and we are content that it was facilitated.

"This is especially so in the context of its showing as part of a wider programme of well-publicised cultural/community events which were conducted in a dignified manner."

But South Antrim DUP MP Paul Girvan rejected the defence offered by the club.

He said: "It defies logic that Michael Davitt's GAC would not be aware of the political associations of this event.

"They are attempting to tell the public that no one associated with the club was aware of any of the advertising and the clear promotion of Sinn Fein.

"Their excuses border on the ridiculous."

Calling on the GAA to intervene, Mr Girvan added: "The justification given for hosting an event honouring terrorists is downright offensive."

Belfast Telegraph

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