Belfast Telegraph

McCrea challenged after GAA remarks

The DUP politician who sparked controversy over comments about the GAA has been challenged in the Assembly after calling for a shared future in education.

Ian McCrea sparked outrage among GAA fans and attracted criticism from nationalist and unionist representatives when he used Twitter to express hopes that no GAA county team from his constituency would win any titles this summer.

The Democratic Unionist from Mid Ulster said he was glad to see Tyrone beaten in the Ulster Championship at the weekend and hoped Derry would be defeated by Donegal, because a win by either county would see publicly funded receptions in his area.

His comments have been described as inflammatory, while critics have said they are out of step with his party leader Peter Robinson's recently announced plan to try to attract Catholic voters.

But in the Assembly Mr McCrea asked Sinn Fein education minister John O'Dowd what efforts his department had made to pursue Mr Robinson's speech earlier this year on securing a single, cross-community education system in Northern Ireland.

Mr McCrea said: "The minister will be aware that my party leader in the past has called for consideration to be given to a single education system, has his department given any consideration to that option and can he inform the House of what the outcome of that has been?"

Mr O'Dowd said he was aware of the publicity that surrounded the speech, but he said he had received no formal proposals as minister.

He said he believed however that politicians were elected to make decisions on such matters and he would be against funding a commission to consider the issue, as Mr Robinson had proposed.

And in an apparent reference to Mr McCrea's GAA controversy, the minister added: "But if we are serious about shared futures and shared societies, I would suggest that measured words and comments from politicians would also assist in that as well."

On Sunday Mr McCrea released a message through the online social media outlet Twitter, which said: "Great to see Tyrone beat in the Ulster semis today, hope Donegal beat Londonderry in the final to keep the celebrations out of Mid Ulster."

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