The GAA and its members/ proponents (not always the same thing) on a regular basis continue to supply the air waves (and internet waves of course) with endless claims and assertions of how inclusive it is, with particular emphasis on how welcome the Unionist community is within the ranks. Recent events have however reinvigorated the Unionist assessment that the claims are simply a clever cloak. Put bluntly Unionism simply believes much of the murky truth is hidden by maximising ‘spin’ and semantics for the benefit of the media (and more importantly grant awarding bodies).
The factual reality’s to back this belief up are undisputable. It would be a very disingenuous Pomeroy GAA member for example who would currently seriously expect anyone to believe that his Unionist neighbours are welcome in the aforementioned ‘ranks’, and shouldn’t have any concerns about membership.
It has also been suggested recently that Unionists ‘exclude’ themselves from membership. Well another ‘factual reality’ is that you cannot be a member of the GAA and be a Unionist. Existing as a Unionist would simply not be adhering to the Associations ‘ethos‘.
The organisation is NOT simply a sporting one, never has been and never will be. GAA President stated it quite succinctly in his speech at the recent visit of the Queen. The GAA is not about Sport. Sport is only an element. The GAA embodies the:-
The thing is it is a 32 County mood. A mood where Ireland does not control ‘all the national territory’. A mood centred on solely native ‘pastimes’, ‘language’, ‘music’ and ‘dance’. A political mood where Ireland must ‘govern her own affairs’.
Well you know what, the GAA and its members are totally allowed to believe and practise what they want within the limits of the law. No problem. However if there was more sincerity and truth, and less hypocrisy in its ranks maybe there would be a lot less ambivalence towards it by Northern Irelands majority community.
Update: Shane O’Neill’s GAA Camlough to host’ terror fest’ this weekend
Unashamed Ulster Loyalist. Marching band activist and band member for over 25 years. Contributor for the Belfast Newsletter and currently studying History at QUB.