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GAA in pledge to get tough on racism

By John Campbell

The GAA's war on racism will be ratcheted up this year, with offenders facing instant dismissal during a game, followed by a minimum eight-week ban.

The get tough policy will be in place for the provincial and All-Ireland championships, provided Congress approves the wording of the new rule next month.

Incidents of racism were previously dealt with under 'abusive language' or 'bringing the Association into disrepute' headings but will now be catered for specifically.

The motion will be proposed by the Playing Rules Standing Committee and is expected to meet with unanimous approval.

GAA bosses believe that tougher measures will send out a clear signal that acts of racism will not be tolerated.

Even if racist comments are not picked up by the referee or his officials during the game, the aggrieved party can complain later and have the case investigated.

The GAA was plunged into a racism row in December, 2012, after Crossmaglen Rangers full-forward Aaron Cunningham alleged that he was the target of abuse during an Ulster senior club football final with Kilcoo at the Athletic Grounds.

The racism proposal is one of 63 motions that will go before Congress.

Another proposal attempts to restrict the summer exodus of inter-county players to New York.

This has been on the increase in recent years but will be confined to J1 students only if the Central Council motion is passed.

There have been complaints over the loss of top players to New York within days of being knocked out of the qualifiers.

Congress will also consider a proposal to apply match bans, rather than time bans, for suspensions involving club players. Match bans currently apply at inter-county level.

Meanwhile, Jim McGuinness has flashed out a clear signal of his intent to restrict Donegal's stay in Division 2 to one season by selecting most of his top stars for Sunday's Allianz League opener against Laois in Portlaoise.

Donegal: P Durcan; K Lacey, N McGee, R McHugh; F McGlynn, L McCloone, A Thompson; R Kavanagh, M McElhinney; M McHugh, D Molloy, O MacNiallas; C McFadden, M Murphy, D O'Connor.

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