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GAA event cancelled over PSNI involvement

A GAA road safety event had to be cancelled when members objected to the involvement of the police.

The ‘Live to Play’ event in Co Tyrone was called off when some host club members threatened to hold a picket when the PSNI was due to take part in the Ulster Council Scheme.

The scheme was set up following the deaths of a number of road deaths involving GAA members and aims to encourage young players to drive safely.

The road safety drive involves the Fire and Rescue Service and the PSNI and was to take place at the grounds of the Derrydresk GAC near Coalisland on Monday.

The decision to cancel the event comes amid a unprecedented period of close links between the GAA and the police.

The former arch enemies came together publicly last year for the funeral of murdered PSNI officer Ronan Kerr, a member of the Beragh Red Knights.

His coffin had been carried through his home town by a joint cortege of GAA and PSNI members.

A senior GAA officer, Ryan Feeney, is now also an independent member of the Policing Board after being appointed last May.

Derrytresk chairman Barney Campbell confirmed some local people were opposed to the police’s involvement at the event.

“As it turned out, the PSNI were coming to it and we were never informed about that and there were a few people in the club not very happy about that we just called it off,” he told the Irish News.

Tyrone county board spokesman Damien Harvey said the GAA’s decision should be respected: “At the end of the day it’s not something Tyrone GAA are forcing on clubs and if clubs take it on then that’s good and if they decide it’s not for them we have to respect that decision.

“We don’t want it make into a political issue," added Mr Harvey.

A spokesman for the Ulster Council said it organises road safety events “in partnership with the NI Fire service, An Garda Siochana, the PSNI and the relevent county committee”.

“The club in question request to host a Live to Play education event but have cancelled and are reviewing arrangements.”

Belfast Telegraph