Tesco, Unionism and GAA children

Following on from yesterday’s blog on the 125th anniversary of the GAA, the BBC is reporting that children bag-packers from St Comghall’s GAC were told to remove club shirts at Tesco in Antrim “after a number of very vociferous complaints both in person and on the phone, including one from a political representative regarding the wearing of the GAA shirts while the group were collecting.”

My son recently participated in a very successful and trouble free collection at the same store and I’ve seen numerous other children doing likewise from groups like the Boys Brigade, Scouts and soccer clubs.

Tesco note: “….would be disappointed if we had to discontinue this practice as many charities and sporting organisations depend on this facility to raise funds. It is never our intention to cause offence so we rely on the co-operation and tolerance of our customers as we know that we can never please everyone.”

Update: As noted in comments and now on the BBC report – the elected representative complaining was UCUNF (UUP) Cllr Adrian Watson and his views were echoed by party colleague Cllr Drew Ritchie

Further update: As the BBC have removed their claim on which political representative was responsible it is being removed here also.

Further further update: The BBC has clarified on their original story: “Councillor Adrian Watson from the Ulster Unionist party told the BBC he had passed complaints on to Tesco on behalf of some of his constituents” and Cllr Watson has issued a statement which seems slightly as odds with this “Since the story broke today I have been in touch with the GAA club in question and stressed that I was not involved in the complaint.” (full text of statement below the fold).

Ulster Unionist Councillor for South Antrim Adrian Watson has clarified the position of the Ulster Unionist Party following inaccurate comments which appeared on the BBC website which allegedly came from him.

“A story on the BBC website reports that I complained to Tesco following a charity bag pack were children from a local school came along wearing GAA shirts. This is inaccurate. I and the Ulster Unionist Party have no objection whatsoever to Tesco encouraging voluntary, sporting and charitable groups to raise money in their stores.

“It is regrettable that the issue of children collecting money at their local supermarket has received this much negative media attention. The society we are building for the people of Northern Ireland must include a commitment to civil and religious liberty for all.

“I would hope that this does not impact on the ability of other groups to use this scheme to raise money for good causes. I fully recognise that Tesco are well within their right to do provide this service, allowing school groups, clubs and charities the opportunity to raise vital and much needed funds.”

“Since the story broke today I have been in touch with the GAA club in question and stressed that I was not involved in the complaint.”

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