Some detail on that abuse…

The Irish Independent has more detail on the specific abuse that Darren Graham took in the course, primarily, of his senior playing career as the only Protestant playing GAA in Fermanagh.

Darren, who works as a joiner with local firm the Clarke Group, stressed he got on well with those within his own club and with people in his local community. “It just came to a head. Something bad (was said) on the field: ‘You’re a black c***.’ Then another ran by and said: ‘It’s the truth, you’re nothing but that’.”

And

Mr Graham, whose two-year-old daughter is being raised as a Catholic, said: “I’ve been getting it from opponents and supporters. It’s been happening up through the ranks but not really bad until I got to senior level, when I was 18.

“It’s definitely because I’m a Protestant. No-one else on the pitch would get it half as bad. I’ve been told Protestants shouldn’t be allowed in the GAA. I know it’s a minority, but it’s happening. Everybody knows it, but I never pushed it any higher. What’s the point? Nothing is going to be done about it.”

, , ,

  • George Gay

    Is this going to be used as incitement to kill more GAA members? Or maybe his daughter when she starts playing camogie?
    BS like this is part of every competitive game in the world. The Indo had a piece some weeks ago on a black schoolboy being called nigger on the GAA pitch and the columnist went on and on about it in suitably moral terms.
    It is a pity Loyalist apologists use this for their own nefarious ends.

    As regards the soccer end of it. Forgeting the Huns for a minute, English soccer has lost its bite as it is now totally dovorced from its roots. When the EPL started , all but a handfull were Brtis, Irish or Huns. No more. It is just an addendum to BSkyB. Save the GAA. No sell out to the politically correct.

  • m

    mmm

  • willowfield

    His decision to walk away is a major blow to the GAA’s efforts to widen its appeal and attract more Protestants.

    What efforts?

  • oh dear

    no excuse for this at all I am sure most people will agree, the IFA have been cleaning up their act very efficiently, its a harder job for the GAA because there are so few protestants (certainly with any profile) involved.

    We are all moving on (some quicker than others) and while sport is always a heated arena with anger and aggression more to the fore, that is no excuse for sectarianism or racism. I play competitive sport and hear both sectarianism and racism on a regular basis but never let it go encountered, it is up to us all to show our opposition to this type of behavior.

  • An Céilleachaireach Rúa

    I get the distinct impression that by replying to you I’d be as well off opening my sock drawer at home but be that as it may…

    Yes, there is an awful lot of ‘chat’ that goes on between players on pitches (in all sports) and very little of it is particularly savoury, be it of the “Your mam is easy” variety or otherwise. Fella’s will say anything to needle their man and it just so happens that a nice point of needling leverage for Darren Graham happened to be his religion and background. For others (eg Seán Óg Ó hAilpín) it’s ethnicity/colour or being a bit overweight (e.g. John Carroll, Diarmuid O’Sullivan) or even alleged sexuality. None of this is terribly nice but how much of it is genuine bigotry/racism and how much is just jostling for competitive advantage in a disntinctly unsporstmanlike fashion? That said, any Cork fan who heard Seán Óg being racially abused would be dug out of the abuser.

    In the end of the day though, to the world at large, bigoted, racist and scurrilous abuse is wrong and should not be tolerated. It’s incumbent however on Darren to make an [I]official[/I] complaint and make the GAA investigate this whole sorry affair properly.

    That’s not political correctness, it’s common decency.

    Personally, I’d be thrilled if more Poles, Nigerians and Chinese took up GAA. Likewise more people like Darren Graham playing GAA can only be a good thing. They should be facilitated in this

  • Cromwell

    George,

    Are you f*cking wise, away get your head read.

  • An Céilleachaireach Rúa

    willowfield: What efforts?

    Dropping the ban?
    Opening Croke Park?
    The use by many rugby/hockey/soccer clubs of GAA facilities (just not for formal matches)? Certainly in the south?
    Sean Kelly’s presidency generally?
    Invitations to Unionist politicians to attend GAA games?

    These are real and constructive moves by the GAA. They were under no obligation to do one jot and they deserve to be recognised as such every bit as much as Brennan and others deserve a hard time for the Hunger Strike larkology.

  • If Darren really wants something done he needs to make a formal complaint instead of causing a ruckus and then walking away.

  • Dublin GAA

    Personally I’d love to see more northern Protestants involved in the GAA and I think it would be a tremendous benefit to the entire gaelic games community. I wonder what is the problem with George Gay? Is he being bigotted and obnoxious for comic effect or does he genuinely hold those views? Fair play to Darren Graham for raising this. There is no room for sectarianism within the GAA. On a related point, with the incresed coverage of hurling and football on UTV and the BBC are more Protestants taking an interest in the GAA or cheering on their home county? I’d love to think so.

  • Cruimh

    “On a related point, with the incresed coverage of hurling and football on UTV and the BBC are more Protestants taking an interest in the GAA or cheering on their home county? I’d love to think so.”

    Does my delight when those scoundrels Ard Macha get stuffed make me a bad person ? 😉

  • An Céilleachaireach Rúa

    Not at all, Cruimh. We all feel that way outside the Orchard…

    Top of my list also
    Kirry
    Dooblah
    Meath

    Us Cork folk aren’t one bit chippy…

  • joeCanuck

    “I play competitive sport and hear both sectarianism and racism on a regular basis but never let it go encountered, it is up to us all to show our opposition to this type of behavior.”

    And that’s how it should be , oh dear.
    Didn’t any of Darren’s teammates hear this abuse and immediately challenge it?

  • Brian D’escartassat

    What Darren Graham has experienced on GAA fields is terrible but for all we know those who have taunted him about his religion may have also lost family members through sectarian violence and feel axtremely bitter about it. They would do well to think on their attitudes however, even if that is the case because alienating future generations of Protestants is surely only stoking the flames of hatred and not going to improve anyone’s lot.

    Someone mentioned on the previous post about this yesterday that growing up in southern Ireland they had plenty of protestants in their school who played several sports including GAA and often excelled.

    I had a similar experience. In fact I often wished Protestant kids playing GAA sports wouldn’t…because maybe then I wouldn’t have spent so much time warming the bench with my arse. (Not trying to be clever there, I actually did spend more time on the bench than on the pitch. No really, I did)

    While I realise it would be foolish to try to purport that this kind of thing doesn’t go on at all in the Republic, simply because I can’t vouch for every GAA parish in the country, I can’t imagine it is much of a problem.

    But then as many Unionist posters have suggested, perhaps that’s only because there are so few protestants left in the South that we no longer view them as any kind of a ‘threat’ or as rivals, and are proud to see those that are left ‘converting’ to ‘our’ culture. This is in many ways reminiscent of the friendly attitudes we used to have towards ‘foreigners’, particularly the more ‘exotic’ looking ones, until they started coming here in numbers and all of a sudden people started peppering their conversations with phrases like ‘I’m not racist, but…’

    This is quite a depressing scenario as many of those who shed the most blood for Irish freedom and in fact many of thosae involved in setting up the GAA (and the Gaelic League, as well as many other Gaelic cultural institutions) were in fact protestants.

    It seems to me that one of the chief flaws of the Republican ideal from the very start has been the view in the eyes of many that, to achieve its aims, the ‘enemy’ had to be either driven from the Island altogether, or utterly defeated and coerced into accepting a 32-county Ireland replete with all its Gaelic cultural traditions to the complete exclusion of all others. It should be obvious to all now that this is not now and probably never was achievable, and should no longer be an aspiration of Irish Republicanism. There will never be a United Ireland through force or coercion. Ireland was never successfully coerced into acceptance of being ruled by a foreign power and should not seek to fulfil its aims this way.

    Maybe I’m naively optimistic, but the events of the last 6 months have proved me wrong(ish) have led me to believe that once we learn to accept each other’s dissenting views and opinions and just live and let live, a la Wolfe Tone (a Protestant, no?), the country will unite itself soon enough, and in a much more natural and meaningful way than through the waving of banners and flags and lines drawn on maps.

  • Blue Hammer

    //What Darren Graham has experienced on GAA fields is terrible but for all we know those who have taunted him about his religion may have also lost family members through sectarian violence and feel axtremely bitter about it.//

    Brian D’escartassat

    And you lot claim protestants are bigots? What relevance would it have if every one else on the pitch had lost relatives to Loyalist violence? Does that make Darren Graham responsible or culpable?

    That is EXACTLY the mindset that allowed Loyalists to indiscriminately murder innocent Catholics – “the Provos murdered so-and-so, so we’ll go and shoot the nearest taig”.

    A very disappointing post, and indicative of the nationalist mindset towards protestants.

  • George Gay

    Redser: You are the only one here who plays any sport. You are right about O’Hailpin (shame about his brother). Jason Sherlock had to put up with the same stuff.
    Of course the GAA don’t go out recruiting Prods/retards/the world at large. The idea is to w-i-n. You don’t do that by recruiting more than you need. Look what Mick O’Dwyer did to Kerry as proof.
    Darren is to be admired. But the GAA have more important problems than some Prod getting a bit of stick. The “rules” of the game spring immediatley to mind. This is just another GAA baiting diversion.

  • John East Belfast

    George Gay

    “Save the GAA. No sell out to the politically correct.”

    Are you saying that on the sports field anything goes in terms of what is being said ?

    ie you would have no objection to being called a fenian bastard for instance ?

    And if it is just sport and you can do anything to upset the opposition then should that not extend to the fans ?

    ie Throwing bananas at black players is that ok by you or opposing fans giving Heil Hitler salutes and singing about the gas chambers when Israel play ?

    Or even that infamous night in November at Windsor Park I suppose that is fine by you as well …..

    Talk sense

  • George Gay

    Closing my window on this, my good eye latched on to the word “abuse”.
    In what sport do you think child sexual abuse is more prevalent? Swimming took a hammering but I heard there was an awful scene at Home Farm boys that even Liam Touhy could not sort out. Is it the same up North with soccer?
    One of the tragedies of this is the genuine ones who get involved with child sport are the salt of the earth. The not so genuine ones should be sent to Concerned Loyalist, assuming there is a division of powers there.
    What do Orangmen play in Fermanagh? Sportswise that is. Are they up to much in croquet?

  • Blue Hammer

    //What do Orangmen play in Fermanagh? Sportswise that is. Are they up to much in croquet?//

    Well largely, thanks to the provo ethnic cleansing programme, they have been playing “dodge the provo bullet/car bomb” over the last 40 years.

    And seeing that they are still there, they must be pretty good at it.

  • Brian D’escatassat

    Blue Hammer – did you even bother to read on?

    I don’t think you got the point of my post. I am trying to understand the mindset of someone who would taunt a sporting opponent with sectarian abuse. I cited a possible reason for this.

    As I understand it Darren Graham’s father was in the UDR and was murdered. A friend of mine from the North lost his father during the troubles. His father was murdered – BY the UDR. The lesson for all concerned here? Hatred begets hatred, violence begets violence.

    I can’t imagine too many nationalists in the North have a very high opinion of people in the UDR or their families, and let’s be honest about it, if your parent(s) were murdered by an organisation it’s doubtful you would have a particularly high opinion of that organisation regardless of whatever acronym they went by.

    So you reckon I’m sectarian because of this?

    …Or is that your way of saying ‘any possible way of trying to rationally explain how a protestant GAA player could get abuse on the pitch from his Catholic fellow players itself betrays a sectarian mindset, BECAUSE the actual reason it happened is because, as everyone knows, ALL Catholic people are born mindless sectarian murdering scum who only play GAA so they can keep themselves fit to run after and catch Protestants, who they kill to satisfy their insane bloodlust’?

  • Blue Hammer

    //…Or is that your way of saying ‘any possible way of trying to rationally explain how a protestant GAA player could get abuse on the pitch from his Catholic fellow players itself betrays a sectarian mindset, BECAUSE the actual reason it happened is because, as everyone knows, ALL Catholic people are born mindless sectarian murdering scum who only play GAA so they can keep themselves fit to run after and catch Protestants, who they kill to satisfy their insane bloodlust’?

    Posted by Brian D’escatassat on Aug 02, 2007 @ 02:06 PM//

    Far from it Brian. But to even try to rationalise such behaviour by suggesting a causal link due to the actions of Darren Graham’s co-religionists borders on condoning it.

    And it cuts both ways. I would never say “oh you can understand Linfield fans (of which i am one) howling abuse at catholic players, as some of them have had relatives lost to terrorist atrocities”. That abuse is wrong and is not defensible even if the said player’s close relative was the provo responsible.

    I recognise your sincerity, and am not impuning it in any way shape or form, but we need to be careful what succour we give to such behaviours, lest by explaining them we are seen to defend them.

  • bollix

    yes, quite right. he didn’t submit a complaint through the official channels, in triplicate. he is clearly in the wrong for:
    failing to adhere to proprieties of the situation, and
    having family members in the UDR.

    There is a difference between the acceptable and unacceptable on the field. Calling someone a “fat bstrd” may be annoying, but no-one was murdered for being a “fat bstrd”. People were murdered though for being an “orange bstrd”.

    For the GAA to retreat into bureaucracy as a defense to inaction is pathetic.
    To blame the victim of sectarian abuse for not reacting in a way that is deemed necessary is similarly pathetic, as is excusing that abuse.

  • Yokel

    Is there something in the core of this story that most Protestants don’t already know?

    No.

  • BonarLaw

    Yokel

    spot on.

  • Rapunsel

    Bollix

    Best post on this story so far. The GAA are in denial over the issue. Dr McSparron from Antrim on Radio Ulster this morning was totally pathetic. I wonder waht would have happened had some of the womne s footballers and camogie players reported sexual harassment at a club or on the field. Has this ever happended and been reported?

    Where is the strong voice coming out to say the bahaviour is unacceptable and that it will be investigated and that Mr Graham is needed back at his local club.

    The fact that Mr Graham is playing for Lisnaskea Emmets itself is quite amazing and despite the current difficulty is cause for hope at the potential for wider and ongoing reconciliation. The Lisnaskea area has always had a reputation for being bitterly divided and strongly republican. Was Frank maguire MP not a publican in the town and Sean Lynch the former OC of the IRA prisoners in the Maze is I think a member of that GA club. Mr Graham is clearly an exceptional individual willing to make relationships within the community regardless of religion and politics. Surely that should and must be reciprocated and it is notable that he has not criticised his fellow players. I for one hope het egts back to playing the game he enjoys

  • Bertie

    While the abuse directed at Darren Graham is to be deplored there is no justification for the media blackening of the GAA as a whole. There are many instances where players have made positive contributions; For example, we too easily forget the contribution of Tyrone GAA Star, Gerard Cavlan, to animal welfare. What a man!

  • willowfield

    It is true that the GAA response to this has been somewhat underwhelming. Then again we are used to such responses (e.g. Provo rally at Casement Park).

    An Céilleachaireach Rúa

    Dropping the ban?
    Opening Croke Park?
    The use by many rugby/hockey/soccer clubs of GAA facilities (just not for formal matches)? Certainly in the south?
    Sean Kelly’s presidency generally?
    Invitations to Unionist politicians to attend GAA games?

    These are real and constructive moves by the GAA. They were under no obligation to do one jot and they deserve to be recognised as such every bit as much as Brennan and others deserve a hard time for the Hunger Strike larkology.

    Those are welcome moves (although the Croke Park thing came across as rather begrudging: xenophobic ban only lifted for one ground out of hundreds across Ireland; only temporarily; and only after major pressure from the Southern government – I don’t think it was done in order to attract Protestants).

    But I’m unaware of any outreach activities to Protestants by the GAA or GAA clubs; and the organisation remains closely associated with violent nationalism in the views of wider Protestant society.

    The bottom line is that the GAA will never attract Protestants in any significant numbers for so long as it remains a nationalist organisation (and quite a militant one at that).

  • Aaron McDaid

    willowfield,
    How could a move to allow certain sports in Croke be ‘done in order to attract Protestants’? There’s nothing in the Bible which is interpreted by any Christian as deciding what sports should be playable in what grounds. There are Protestant republicans in the GAA, just as there are Catholic unionists who are not.

    The GAA describes itself as “A National organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity of a 32 County Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic Games and pastimes.” (according to Wikipedia)

    The GAA has nothing to apologise with regard to this stated aim.

    There is no mention of religion there, so the idea that more could be done to include Protestants is ludicrous. People of any and all religions are already welcome. It’s just the politics that unionists wouldn’t like.

    There may well be sectarian members and I hope they’re expelled. I will have no difficulty attacking the GAA if they fail here.

    Instead of making false accusations of institutional sectarianism, and whining about Protestants not being welcome, you should explain what could possibly be wrong with
    “A National organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity of a 32 County Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic Games and pastimes.”

    It’s absurd to think that sectarianism can be defined as “political opinions on the status of the monarchy and sovereignty in Ireland which willowfield disagrees with”

    Of course unionists (‘unionists’ shouldn’t be confused with ‘Protestants’) won’t fully support all the GAA’s aims. But that’s their problem, especially if some of them try to make up this new crazy dogma that mixing politics and sport is ‘sectarian’.

  • Mick Fealty

    Aaron,

    Here’s another way of looking at this situation.

    One, it is not difficult to admit that in the wider sporting world the GAA is an anomaly, in that it espouses certain political aims well beyond it’s de facto organisational jurisdiction. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it is an anomaly.

    Two, we can probably assume that in the Republic, this is not particularly a problem, since the same principles were, until recently, enshrined in the Constitution, and were never actively (by the state at least) pursued by anything other than peaceful, civic means.

    Three, in Northern Ireland the opposite has been the case. The aims were not only political, but they were also the focus what was for most Protestants in NI, an armed insurrection against the democratic institutions of the state.

    NB, this last does not in least mean that the organisation at anytime shared any support for the means! Yet hiring Casement out to a very specifically political event sent fairly ambiguous signals, not simply to the few aspirant Protestant members there might be but also, (and given the nature of this particular story, possibly more importantly) to its own support and membership.

    Maybe it is enough to act aggressively in each case as it arises. But the fact that Fermanagh has one senior player that is Protestant; and that player muddled through with this kind of low level abuse for so long before throwing in the towel, should give others in the organisation who perhaps ought to be familiar with the problem of cultural isolation in other areas of life some pause for wider thought.

    Surely?

  • Aaron McDaid

    Mick,
    You talk of “aspirant Protestant members”. But if they were nationalist or republican Protestants they may have been happy to join because of, not despite, the Hunger Strike commemoration. So really I think you’re trying to talk about unionists, not Protestants, and unionists probably wouldn’t have wanted to join even if they Casement Hunger Strike commemoration hadn’t happened. So what is the connection with Protestantism?

    It appears to be a desperate attempt to bring religion into everything in order to play the victim card because everything is (rightly) concerned about sectarianism. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen with the GAA. The GAA has nothing to apologise with regard to it’s aims and objectives. It may be an anomoly, but then it’s amateur status is also anomolous; is some unionist going to complain that amateur sports are necessarily sectarian? One can’t just bandy the word ‘anomoly’ about, it’s not a substitute for a real argument.

    Real sectarianism is problem that real people have to face every day in many walks of life. It does not however give an excuse to tell lies about the causes of sectarianism.

  • Brian Boru

    I condemn the sectarian abuse. But I maintain this is much more a reflection of Northern society than it is a reflection of the GAA. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen in the South.

  • flaminglip

    “The bottom line is that the GAA will never attract Protestants in any significant numbers for so long as it remains a nationalist organisation (and quite a militant one at that).”

    Aye, we all go around with guns, you’re right. You know so little about the GAA but act like you know it all.

  • Turgon

    Clearly the abuse suffered by Mr Graham is unacceptable and trying to excuse it is even more unacceptable, as is the rather meely mouthed remarks by the Fermanagh GAA.

    I do not think the GAA will ever attract significant unionist support and in a way I do not think they need to. They are an organisation which draws support from one section of the community and in my view should strive for benign indifference from the unionist community.

    Yes they should make an effort to get rid of the IRA named grounds etc. and I do see that in some areas they may find that difficult but try they must. Then, however, I do feel that unionists should welcome this and then let them get on with their own sport. To be honest I care little if they have wired rules about the Irish language or if they want to play the Irish national anthem. I have no idea whether or not Derry is good at any GAA sports and Elenwe the same about Fermanagh.

    I had several friends who were very good GAA players at Queen’s and I was happy for them but had no desire to go and watch them or get involved, though I always marvelled at the sheer blind hatred they seemed to reserve for the UUJ GAA teams.

    I am pleased if the GAA get young people to play any sport and take more physical activity.

  • Turgon

    Sorry I meant weird rules

  • chauncy

    Apologies in advance for what is probably an unduly long post..
    Willowfield’s post at the top of page two raises an important point, namely that the response of the GAA to this situation has been inadequate. Nicky Brennan, on this evening’s ‘Drivetime’ on RTE, came across as either having been not properly briefed or evasive. He condemned sectarianism, stated that he had been unaware of any harassment of Darren Graham prior to yesterday and stated that the GAA would “do something” if D.Graham were to make a formal complaint. Graham had already indicated earlier in the day that he was in the process of doing just that. It would appear that he is being strongly encouraged to make a formal complaint – for whatever reason.

    Nicky Brennan also pointed out that the GAA is an open house for any player regardless of creed or colour, and his subsequent comments seemed designed to steer the interview away from the troublesome specificity of the Northern situation toward the safer haven of the avowedly (whether really so or not) multi-cultural South. It was weasally and embarassing.

    The GAA don’t have a moral consistency when it comes to the North..mind you, was at Croker for the Waterford/Cork match with my 3 chiddlers and despite the fantastic game and the fabby stadium, was appalled at the foul language of the supporters around me. 35 blas for myself and 5 euros each for the kiddies was good going, but – and please don’t tell me it’s part and parcel of sporting life – I didn’t pay to have some nutcase Cork fan shout into my shell-like, 2 rows back from the goal that the ref was a fat wanker who should be shafted..A snob I am not, but a culture which encourages some level of acuity or restraint would better meet the family needs the GAA try so actively to meet.

    There’s an openly gay player on the Cork team – the GAA doesn’t actively solicit gay membership – and this is, perhaps, where the cultural specificities of North and South diverge, I think it shouldn’t have to. So, Willowfield, I am uncomfortable with the idea of specifically targeting Protestants – like others on this list -I am a member of several different sporting and social constellations and don’t know what creed my fellow members follow – it’s not an issue. However I think in Fermanagh and elsewhere it is.Still. Not sure that N. Brennan has the nous to handle this or other issues well.

  • Rory

    The sooner all those who play Gaelic games renounce Popery, accept Christ as their personal saviour, acknowledge Queen Elizabeth II of England as their rightul monarch, apply to join the Orange Order and pledge undying loyalty to Linfield FC, then any chance they have of convincing the ordinary, decent, humane, liberal unionist that they really are safe to play games with really rings rather hollow.

    Let’s face it, how otherwise are they to prove that they are not murderous Fenian thugs?

    As for a Protestant playing for GAA teams – unthinkable! Imagine if, say, a Tottenham player signed up for Arsenal. Quite intolerable. Never could happen. He could never stand the abuse.

    Be like coming out as gay. Shouldn’t be allowed. Or having your daughter declare herself a vegan (whatever religion that is).

  • George Gay

    “I wonder waht would have happened had some of the womne s footballers and camogie players reported sexual harassment at a club or on the field. Has this ever happended and been reported?”

    This shows you know absolutely nothing about camogie or ladies’ footbal. FYI, the abuse ism uch worse and much more personal than men’s GAA.

    Rory, the Gunners refer to Spurs as the Yids. Guess why.

    I asked a question about waht sports ordinary Fermanagh Protestants play. The real answer seems to be none. This is why Darren, and King Rat and Willie Frazer before him, played GAA. That was the main event in their places.
    Now we have some poster brging his kids to Croke park and complaining about the supporters’ language. At least you can bring your kids there. Next time, try a Linfield or Portadown match.

    The GAA is under no onus to attract couch Protestants or gays or sheep shaggers to their ranks.

    We have one Protestant moaning here that the GAA dod not hand over all their facilities to the garrisson game brigades. The GAA exists to promote GAA games/culture. not the droppings of the British Army garrisson. You have the IRFU. IFA/FAI, DUP, UVF, SFIRA to do that for you.
    People gop to GAA matches to be entertained by the clash of the ash, not the moans and groans of menopausal Protestants.

  • Turgon

    George gay
    “I asked a question about waht sports ordinary Fermanagh Protestants play”
    Well the ones I know play football, cricket and rugby. Incidentally King rat and Willie Frazer are / were from Armagh.

    I kind of agree about not needing to bend over backwards to attract Prods but in that case

    1) They should still get rid of the openly nasty stuff like IRA named grounds, though I accept this is only a minority and is not always easily imposed from a central authority.

    2). They should not expect unionists to weclome everything with open arms and should not expect us to get interested in our “local” GAA. As I said benign indifference should be the aim.

    Being a little nicer about Prods might help your cause as well.

  • páid

    Irish Times reports that Nickey Brennan is to invite Mr. Graham to Croke Park.

    I salute you Nickey, you are a leader.

  • George Gay

    Turgon

    What thoughtful and indeed insightful replies you give.

    1. I am not sure if Fermanagh Prods are good at any sport,or at least the ones you mention. Lots of lakes there and probably Ireland’s prettiest county. It was nice to see them get a football run a few years ago.
    2. QUB v UUUJ. That is the key to the GAA and the one you must get your head around. That is why Graham is called a black bastard and it is the strengfht of the GAA. Local rivalries.
    3. IRA named grounds. The GAA was set up with a valid political purpose by a cricket player. That purpose remains valid today.
    4. Benign indifference is impossible when Protestant suprepacism defines itself on the bais of crushing the Croppies. Witness the (lack of) reception the victorious Derry team got. Witness, in boxing, Wayne McCullough’s treatment.

    Finally Nickey Brennan should stop the cheap gimmicks. Put more money into schoolboy/girl sports and forget being nice to wankers. You don’t see Roy Keane trying to make the Prods of Cork great soccerp layers, do you? He wants to cherry pick – and fast.

  • There is altogether too much abuse going on in this thread – it’s not a gaelic match, you know!

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Witness the (lack of) reception the victorious Derry team got.”

    Er.. that would be civic receptions in the councils of Londonderry, Limavady, Magherafelt, and Coleraine-where they had to endure an evening with mayor McClarty- then? Do check facts

    North Fermanagh cricket club is tolerably average this year. But the trouble is there are no gritty Presbyterians in the county, just fey Anglicans

    Oh, and Arsenal fans don’t call the Totts yids anymore- might annoy the ownership a bit- Fiszman, Dein etc

    At the risk of being controversial, Mr Graham seems a little confused. He’s quoted as saying he’s the only “true Protestant” on the team , yet he’s bringing up a child as an RC – not a sectarian point but if you are a dedicated member of a church you presumably want to have your family belong to it

  • Mick Fealty

    Aaron,

    You are being more than a little disingenuous here. The issue of religion is in the story as reported, and not something I have added extraneously. Let me try to (briefly) explain why the explicit politics of the GAA might be a problem in NI, even as it is not perceived as such in the Republic:

    – Religion in Northern Ireland is highly correlative of political conviction, almost exclusively so in terms of the constitutional question. According to NILT, Protestant nationalists don’t exist. Ergo, this political requirement naturally filters almost all Protestants out. The pejorative term ‘black’ is equally applied to both ‘cop’ and ‘protestant’ – eg, ‘such and such a place is just a black hole’.

    – This ideological filter is unique to GAA and, in Northern Ireland, it augments the kind of structural barrier (largely found in education) that also reduces (and almost eliminates) the number of NI Catholics who play rugby, hockey and cricket. So far as we know, it has successfully retarded the number of senior players in Fermanagh to one. As such, we know that few Protestants in Northern Ireland are prepared to sidestep that political obstacle in the way that many basically apolitical (at least viz a viz the constitution ) NI Catholics are.

    – Let me be clear. Nothing in law obliges the GAA to address its constitutional position. Nor, in my view, should it. This is entirely a matter for the GAA. As such, it was perfectly within the objects of the organisation for the Antrim board to allow the H-Block commemoration at Casement to go ahead. But the ‘repulse’ effect of such arrangements are straightforward enough, even for the most apolitical of Protestants: close and official identification with the armed struggle of the IRA.

    – But, whilst the political direction of the IRA’s struggle may have been towards an Republic of equals, in effect, its targets where local and mostly Protestant. In the case of Graham, that meant three members of his immediate family. It may not have been intended as sectarian warfare, but that is often what it boiled down to, not least in Ulster’s rural GAA heartland.

    – However what makes this case interesting is that one man penetrated that filter. I have no idea of his politics, nor, I suspect, have you. But since he hasn’t mentioned it, perhaps it just didn’t matter to him the way that it doesn’t particularly matter for a lot of largely apolitical Catholics who love the game. The problem here (as it seems to me) is the isolation created by the filter, rather than the political objects in and of themselves.

    – The GAA has a fantastic outreach programme in the Republic, Britain and many other countries overseas. As such it draws in people of all colours and creeds. ONLY in Northern Ireland does its political nature have both relevance and such dramatic social effect. In this case there seems to have been ongoing (over years) sectarian abuse of a single player, that must have been viewed by playing colleagues as acceptable behaviour.

    As for your remark about the amateur code, the GAA does face potentially serious challenges there. But they won’t come from ‘some unionist’ as you put it. The AFL sees a bank of untapped talent with skills that are commensurate and in many cases, superior to those of their own players. What it has in common with the Fermanagh case is that it another pressure coming from without that the organisation would be well advised to find an intelligent response to.

    This may, or may not, be the GAA’s ‘Neil Lennon’ moment. But I suspect, if it has more than half an eye to continuing its prosperous present into an increasingly multicultural future, it might be as well to treat as though it were. It is the one organisation that stands to draw benefit from it.

  • Turgon

    George Gay,
    So benign indifference is not acceptable because we all hate Croppies / Taigs etc. Quality MOPEry. Are we not allowed to not care about GAA? Oh yes even not caring would be attacking the GAA because we are all such evil supremacist bigots. Maybe you want me to eat a catholic baby this morning.

    So essentially we have to get whole heartedly behind your sport, do we? Why? As I said I am perfectly happy for you to carry on playing it and I think a lot of unionists would quitely and disinterestly support it if you got rid of stuff like the IRA named clubs. The GAA may have had a valid political purpose but unionists do not regard IRA terrorists as having a “valid political purpose”.

    As Darth has pointed out there were receptions for the Derry GAA though actually an evening with McClarty would probably be illegal under various anti torture conventions.

    My comments may well be neither thoughtful nor insightful but in this case it is pot calling kettle.

  • William Ffrench

    “So far as we know, it has successfully retarded the number of senior players in Fermanagh to one”.

    Indedd. No wonder the Special lympics were held at Croke Park

    Turgon, they are not worth it. No respect for the Sabbath, the Queen or even Life itself.

  • kensei

    “I do not think the GAA will ever attract significant unionist support and in a way I do not think they need to.”

    Have you ever seen Antrim play? Perhaps there are some unionists out there who are half decent. They couldn’t be much worse, anyway.

  • Sarah

    Are you saying that on the sports field anything goes in terms of what is being said ?

    Ulster have already proven this on the rugby field.

  • Turgon

    Kensei,
    “Perhaps there are some unionists out there who are half decent. They couldn’t be much worse, anyway”

    I have never met in real life or cyberspace a person so trully skilled at unionist engagement.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Turgon

    You give me a good chuckle now and then! You seem to not know whether to be as happy as a pig in shit that one of the great myths about the GAA has finally came true. Or as you love doing so often wagging your finger at Nationalists for not kow towing in the correct fashion at their betters.

    Apart from on a personal level, you are happy to wax lyrical about never wanting to interact with Nationalism, be it politically or culturally. Double standards surely?

  • kensei

    Turgon

    “I have never met in real life or cyberspace a person so trully skilled at unionist engagement.”

    Are you taking the piss?

    “I had several friends who were very good GAA players at Queen’s and I was happy for them but had no desire to go and watch them or get involved, though I always marvelled at the sheer blind hatred they seemed to reserve for the UUJ GAA teams.”

    Why not, though? Surely we should be aspiring to be a situation where we can support our friends even if they do is not necessarily something we’d not normally be interested in. Does the fact that the GAA has Nationalist aspirations and trappings make it unacceptable to Unionists, or is it merely things like the above? Where is the bottom line?

  • Cruimh

    “Does the fact that the GAA has Nationalist aspirations and trappings make it unacceptable to Unionists”

    In the main, yes – but a further complication is the support for/ perceived links with physical force reublicanism.

  • kensei

    “In the main, yes – but a further complication is the support for/ perceived links with physical force reublicanism.”

    Why should it though? I would like there to be a situation where, for example, I could attend the 12th of July parades. I’m not British, and I have no aspiration to Unionism but I don’t see why if the problems I have with the OO were resolved (and I felt safer), then I couldn’t attend and enjoy it.

    Is the mere presence of a tricolour and the Irish language so offensive in itself?

  • Joe Dundon

    Would Unionists be happier if even more GAA and camogie members were killed during the Troubles. Just how many dead sportsmen would satiate the lust?

    Turgon, they were saying to you that Antrim are so shit that an influx of Harryville nun kickers could not make the situation worse for Antrim footballers. Adams’ son played for Antrim but I am not sure about Stakeknife’s progeny.

  • Mick Fealty

    Joe,

    What on earth was that in response to?

  • Cruimh

    “Is the mere presence of a tricolour and the Irish language so offensive in itself? ”

    It’s so complicated.

    I’d broadly put it into two overlapping categories

    1) The Nationalist imperative means that “it’s not our sort of thing”. It’s “something for the other side”.

    2) The Physical force dimension – real and perceived – engenders a degree of active hostility ( not referring to attacks here – which I deplore)

    Another overlap that I know that GAA people in the ROI don’t seem to understand – what are seen in their eyes and the country as symbols of nationalism – Tricolour, National Anthem, Irish Language – are not so much nationalist in the eyes of my community as hardline republican.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Ohhhhhh….The strangers came and tried to teach us their ways, they scorned us just for being what we are.

    What ho old chaps? Much better to jolly along wot?

  • kensei

    Cruimh

    I can understand the active hostility with regards to the physical force republicanism. However, does the first engender indifference or hostility? If, as suggested, you’d refuse to go and support your friends, that seems to me being the latter rather than the former.

    The Tricolour, GAA and Irish language aren’t extreme Republican here either – they encompass the entire Nationalist spectrum, and if that is the perception then it is one that needs correcting.

  • Cruimh

    “However, does the first engender indifference or hostility?”

    Ken – best expression I can give is what is represented as the old attitude pre-troubles re OO/AOH – seen as something the other side do.
    “You have your sports, we have ours”, You have your social structures, we have ours. (plug for ending segregated education here )

    “The Tricolour, GAA and Irish language aren’t extreme Republican here either – they encompass the entire Nationalist spectrum, and if that is the perception then it is one that needs correcting. ”

    I think most of us know that they do actually encompass the entire spectrum – it’s a similar thing to the discussons we have over nationalist reactions to the OO.

    So speaking for myself, gut reactions – Tricolour is the flag draped over the Shankill bomber’s coffin, carried by G Adams. Irish Language is TAL and the grating dissonance of SF spokesmen as talked about by Brian Feeney a few weeks ago. Amhran is a provo Anthem. Those are gut reactions that I would expect many in my community to share.

    They may not be right but I can put forward a reasoned argument to explain my reactions.

    I don’t know how damage done by the extremists can be undone by moderate republicans and nationalists. I suspect that changes will come as people of my generation die out – and a good reason to argue for integrated educaton so as to speed things up.

    Ther’s a similarity with my parent’s generation attitude towards Germans and Japanese people Post WW2. My generation have some of it the generation after have even less and it will disappear with time. I don’t think old wrongs and hurts can be reasoned around.

    there’s another point – there’s a generation lag. The movers and shakers, the senior politicians, the senior churchmen, the media types are all of the troubles generation. It’ll be what, another 20 years before those who weren’t around in the 60s, 70s and 80s start to run this place – and it will be a lot longer before those born post GFA or post ceasefire become important.

  • páid

    Mr Rumsfeld wades in with……

    “At the risk of being controversial, Mr Graham seems a little confused. He’s quoted as saying he’s the only “true Protestant” on the team , yet he’s bringing up a child as an RC – not a sectarian point but if you are a dedicated member of a church you presumably want to have your family belong to it”

    Controversy suits you Darth!
    Mr Graham would appear to have an identity problem, if not a full-blown crisis.

    What’s this? Scots border name in Norfolk-planted county? Plays hurley? Calls himself a Prod? Raising a Taig?

    And any Taig raising a Prod and playing cricket would be just as much an oddball.

    Sad, innit?

  • barnshee

    what in the name of fuck is a protestant doing in that bunch of murder gang apologists aka the GAA??
    One prod from fermanagh is one prod too many

  • Turgon

    Kensei,
    “”I do not think the GAA will ever attract significant unionist support and in a way I do not think they need to.”
    Have you ever seen Antrim play? Perhaps there are some unionists out there who are half decent. They couldn’t be much worse, anyway. ”

    I have been away from the computer for a while but need to apologise. I failed to understand your comment and thought you were saying something you were not (ie we were not nice rather than maybe we were ok at sport). I am neither a nice person nor good at sport so in my case the comment is probably correct. My apologies for accusing you of an attack when it was not.

  • Aaron,
    I’m not sure why a sporting organisation needs to be quite so fixated on an Irish 32-county political identity, rather than a cultural identity which would not be quite so hostile to the other community, whether you identify them as protestants or unionists.

    Instead of making false accusations of institutional sectarianism, and whining about Protestants not being welcome, you should explain what could possibly be wrong with “A National organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity of a 32 County Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic Games and pastimes.”

    Is it, and should it be, about the National Identity of a 32 County Ireland, or is it about promotion of Gaelic Games?

    Of course unionists (’unionists’ shouldn’t be confused with ‘Protestants’) won’t fully support all the GAA’s aims. But that’s their problem, especially if some of them try to make up this new crazy dogma that mixing politics and sport is ‘sectarian’.

    Surely you don’t have to believe in bending over backwards to ask whether promoting the sport is less important than commemorating dead terrorists or freedom fighters.

    You can, of course, try to promote the sport as well as celebrating the armed struggle – but celebrating terrorists, through hungerstrike events, names of grounds, and otherwise, does severly limit the appeal and spread of the sport.

    And failing to get to grips with the sectarian abuse a protestant player suffered, or minimising it, or condoning it, is both morally wrong, and incredibly stupid, if the GAA are serious about moving out of the ghetto.