Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Wells wants probe over IRA chants at 'rebel night in Down GAA clubhouse'

By Rebecca Black

The GAA is facing criticism after pro-IRA chanting was recorded during an event at a Co Down sports club.

Footage was posted online showing young people in a GAA function hall chanting "Up the IRA".

South Down DUP MLA Jim Wells has demanded an investigation into the incident, which is believed to have taken place on Saturday night in south Down.

However, the Down County Board said it was unclear where the incident took place.

The club where the event is suspected of having been held did not respond to Belfast Telegraph requests for a comment. However, Down GAA insisted that the location cannot be determined from the video clips, and said it would investigate the footage if it emerged the event took place in its premises.

"We take any breaches of rules seriously, but we are not aware of any breaches of rules in relation to this event," it said.

It added that the GAA was an anti-sectarian and anti-racist organisation.

Mr Wells said: "The video I have shows this event with people shouting pro-IRA slogans during the singing. The GAA have to make a decision - is it a sporting club or is it a political club?

"If it's a sporting club, then there can be absolutely no place for this type of activity.

"The GAA has to ask itself a very straight question: why is it such a cold house to the Protestant community? I think that video illustrates why it is such a cold house to the Protestant community. It is a political organisation, but a political organisation that gets millions of pounds worth of funding from the taxpayers.

"Many of those taxpayers are from a unionist persuasion and will wonder why we are funding an organisation that every now and again lets its mask slip.

"This event was planned and organised by the club itself, it was not an outside event."

He said the event was advertised in local press as a "GAA Rebel Night".

"I would understand if an outside organisation came in and booked the clubhouse, runs an event and they are unaware of what is going on, but this was an official GAA event at which somebody took a video and what that video shows has nothing whatsoever to do with sport," he said.

Independent councillor Henry Reilly also condemned it.

"I could not imagine any circumstance where a Protestant Church hall or Orange hall in Mourne would be used for such sinister activities and motivational hatred against their fellow citizens regardless of religion," he said.

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