Does the GAA need flags and anthems?

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 09.38.05

Picture by St Paul’s High School

­­As I sit here typing, I’m waiting for a call from the Nolan Show on BBC Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster. The topic for discussion – if it comes off – is a recommendation by Jarlath Burns that the flying of the Irish tricolor and the playing of the Irish national anthem before GAA games be scrapped. I don’t always find myself in agreement with Jarlath but I’m with him on this one.

I’m aware of the historical origins of the GAA and how Irish nationalism was an important part of its development. But we’re one hundred years and more from that, so we should be looking at what part flags and anthems play in the sport now.

I favour their abolition for a number of reasons. One would be that it would remove any vestige of reason for unionist politicians to draw equivalence between the GAA and the Orange Order. Not that there’s any core equivalence now. The GAA admits players of any religious denomination or none to its ranks; the Orange Order does not. GAA players and supporters travel to the field by car or public transport; the Orange Order feels the need to march to the field, preferably through areas where they are patently unwelcome. I’m not saying we’d have an influx of unionists to watch and play Gaelic games, should the flying of the Irish flag and the playing of the Irish national anthem be scrapped. There almost certainly wouldn’t. But as I say it’d remove any trace of reason for comparing a sporting organization with an anti-Catholic organization.

The fact is, the GAA is a amazingly vital, self-confident organization. It is hugely popular and bursting with talent. This open, exuberant organization doesn’t need anthems or flags to prop it up; only associations that have made themselves prisoner to a siege mentality feel the need to fly flags and sing anthems. Besides, have you noticed how the crowd and the players at Croke Park peel away and begin roaring encouragement even while there’s still a couple of lines of the anthem to go? As it operates at present, the playing of the anthem can be a tawdry, ragged thing.

Besides, ask any Gaelic games player why s/he took up the sport. It’s unlikely s/he’ll give you patriotic motivation. Certainly when I was a boy, we played Gaelic football because it was an exciting, manly sport – we revelled in it. I don’t remember any flags flying or anthems sounding back then, but it took away nothing from our enjoyment. The truth is, flags and anthems are props which some organisations seem to need because they’re uncertain about who they are. The GAA suffers from no such identity crisis. So forget the flag and anthem, guys. Just play the game.



75 Responses to Does the GAA need flags and anthems?

  1. jessica September 28, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    It would be nice to see a lot less flags about the place. There is a bit of a US style flag obsession in this part of the world.

    A lot of it is down to the history between britain and ireland. Troops signing god save the queen in local bars to wind up the locals etc…

    Overdoing it on flags and anthems is not really showing respect and lets face it, it is simply using them to rub it in the noses of the other tradition.

    We cannot really criticise the unionist orange and then do the same ourselves even if to a lesser degree.

    Nationalism does not have the same insecurities unionism so perhaps we should lead the way on this.

    Even if it were limited to the all ireland final might be a start.

    • Jude Collins September 28, 2015 at 10:07 am #

      I agree, Jessica.

    • An Dun September 28, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      Hi Jessica, as a GAA fan of some years, I can assure you that at no time was the playing of our national anthem or flying of the national flag done to rub anyone’s nose in it.

      • jessica September 28, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

        An Dun
        Also as a GAA fan of some years, I agree with you that unionism has been furthest from my mind at any GAA match though Armagh have lost their way somewhat of late.

        However, having a moderate grasp of our history, I assure you that british colonial songs and irish rebel songs such as our anthem have both been used in this way.

        It may not be a bad thing for the GAA to show leadership and distance itself if there is support. Making it a demand would be a bad thing

      • Anne September 30, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

        I will agree with jarleth burns only if he also wants the Irish language kept out of match day programmes and commentaries.

        • Jude Collins September 30, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

          Very good, Anne. But of course no admission for people with Gaelicized names…

        • jessica September 30, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

          cailín maith tú féin a

  2. PJ Dorrian September 28, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    I feel that it would merely be the first demand, if the experience of unionism since the GFA was signed is anything to go by. Next it will be references to IRA names, Sam Maguire will become the Etihad Cup, then Saints’ names if they reference only RC saints, then use of Gaelic will have to be stopped; Irish Athletic Association, will do for a while, names on the non playing staff uniforms will be changed to English. And why play with that round ball? The egg shaped one would be better for carrying. Hurling will have to go, can’t get anymore insulting to a unionist than that, shinty would do for a while until proper hockey is brought in. Yes, one can just see those list of needs before we support you growing.

    • An Dun September 28, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      I wholeheartedly agree, PJ.

      I hesitate to use a term like Uncle Tom but I think we are apporaching that stage should we go down this road. Unionism will of course demand more and give no credit whatsoever to the GAA.

      If the Irish Guards can enter the GAA as it is, I see no reason why anyone genuinely interested can’t as well.

    • paul September 28, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

      100% agreement. Would the OO not play the anthem to accomadate the ‘catholics’ that Gregory Campbell says vote DUP? rhetorical question

  3. billy September 28, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    why,if people want to come to a match they have to accept the culture,why,should a minority who the gaa dont need be catered for,

    • George September 28, 2015 at 11:54 am #

      Oh flip! Seems I was right. Thanks for clearing that up Billy!

      • billy September 28, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

        no problem will agree then that muslims arriving are right to be offended at being asked to live by the host countrys laws,

  4. fiosrach September 28, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    The CLCG has two functions,jude, and both are equally important. One is to foster an interest in Gaelic games and the other, sometimes overlooked, is to foster an interest in Gaelic language and culture. For some unfortunates, this is the only manifestation of the Irish flag and anthem that they see in the six counties. When other countries cease to fly the flag and play the anthem then it may be time to ask is it needed. It may not be necessary to preface all games with official trappings but Iarfhlaith rode to fame on this train and it’s a bit ungrateful to jump ship now.

  5. George September 28, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Those are hugely encouraging sentiments Jude. I have a GAA club at the bottom of my road but I’ve never been in it. I drive past it every day and I always wondered what kind of sorcery went on in there! I love all sport but I’ve thought I wouldn’t be particularly welcome at a GAA club. Perhaps it was me being over-sensitive but the GAA never gave me the impression that it would ever want or need my patronage. What the heck – maybe I shall give it a try. Haven’t they just agreed to admit a British Army team? Maybe a new age has dawned!

  6. Peadar Tóibín September 28, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    More than just a club.

  7. paddykool September 28, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    I watched that entire interview with Eamon Mallie, Jude.on that wee local TV channel .It was very robust and i have to say Jarlath Burns came across as very erudite , straightforward and honest. He appeared to be way ahead of the crowd in his thinking . It was so honest that if say he wanted to run for political office at some far -fetched future time , I’m not sure which political party he’d ever be able to be part of .He seems to be a free-thinking individual and comments like his should be more commonplace but are not.The fact is that lots of people , on both sides of the divide , are obsessed by flags, using them as territorial pissing posts. They should have no place in something like the GAA. Everything that can give unionism a weapon to attack this sporting expression should be removed . The county colours should be all that is needed at sporting events anyway . .National anthems with all their negative connotations should be replaced too.It all ends in tribalism otherwise.

    • Sherdy September 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

      Unionism does not need to be given weapons to attack their neighbours with.
      If you are Irish, nationalist, republican or Catholic, any of these qualifies you for their firing line.
      As an ex-political leader to be once famously said: ‘They don’t want a taig about the place’.
      Never thought I’d end up quoting the Mad Doctor, but I suppose everyone’s entitled to say something honest once in their lives.

      • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 8:52 am #

        Sherdy, was The Doctor not referring to the DUP specifically?

    • Argenta September 28, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

      Given his family roots,Sinn Fein would be his natural political home,but as you say,he seems to be too much of a free thinker to accept the democratic centralism of that party.I would see him perhaps as a future G A A president.He seems to tick many of the boxes for that role.

  8. Ernie catney September 28, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    I would dearly love greater unionist participation in gaa sports,but I fear
    Their track record confirms that p.j.dorrians analysis is correct.

  9. Séamus Ó Néill September 28, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    The sentiments expressed Jude are laudable and I certainly don’t need a flag to know who I am but removing a flag or not singing an anthem will not change the Unionist mindset one iota. They sneer at our language ,they constantly make insulting references to house-training us ,not being able to trust we lesser beings etc etc all whilst I’m constantly bombarded with British militaristic symbols ,roads and streets named after people who slaughtered us ,the Union Flag forever fluttering as a badge of dominance …..I never recall a single Unionist apologizing for any hurt or offence…ever. Were this truly a shared space, where my language,customs ,games and history shared a parity of esteem then we could confidently go down that road but until Unionism lets go of it’s adolescent-like hissy fits ,shows a bit of political and social maturity then I think we should leave it as it is….probably one concession too many at the moment.

  10. Bridget Cairns September 28, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    George, the thing is a comparison between the OO/GAA does not add up. You, I am sure would be most welcome at your local GAA club, whereas, would the GAA members be welcome to join the OO. Huge difference which has been skirted over in this article. As for “sorcery” well first of all…………………………………

    • George September 28, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

      Do you know what? – I’m up for it Bridget – I’m gonna go to my first GAA match. A bit of advice please. If I’m at the bar and it happens to come up in conversation, do you think I should mention that I’m a Protestant or a Unionist? Given what Billy has said, I would be a wee bit nervous about that – maybe I should steer the conversation in another direction?. Oh, by the way, you should definitely not go to a meeting of the OO. That would just be silly.

      • billy September 28, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

        you will be fine george,you will hardly end up beaten with breeze blocks,shot in the head,and dumped in a wheelie bin like that young catholic girl after attending a dance after a band parade celebrating their culture,couple a pints a double after the match you be grand.

      • Bridget Cairns September 28, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

        George, delighted to hear you are going to a GAA match. Just one question, why do you think it is necessary to clarify your religion in a pub, and yes I am cognisant of the need to know your whereabouts in the north. Living in the U.K.& latterly in the South, I have never been asked my religion & I have worked with many from “the other side of the house” (an inoffensive euphemism). I think you should go with an open mind, no need to broadcast your personal allegiances. Enjoy & let us know how you got on.

      • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 3:38 pm #


        For what it’s worth, when I return home to the grim north and am in the mood for socialising I usually find myself in what ‘we’ would consider very nationalist bars, mainly in Derry city (with the very odd foray into West Belfast).

        It’s never once come up and that wasn’t a case of me pretending to be someone that I wasn’t, it just simply never did (though I did feel a bit out of place in Shantallow House in Derry, but, live and learn and all that jazz…)

        If you’re going to go out and spend money on the price of a pint (extortionate) then you don’t want to work yourself into a lather and get all hot and bothered about religion and politics (unless you’re at some of the more hard line band parades, but that’s a different topic).

    • giordanobruno September 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

      I agree that a direct comparison between the GAA and the OO “doesn’t add up”
      The Orange Order is much more problematic for our society than the GAA, mainly I think, because their activities impinge so much on the rest of society.
      However the GAA being a Nationalist organisation committed to promoting a national identity in a 32 county Ireland would make it difficult if not impossible for a Unionist to be a member.
      Not necessarily so for a Protestant, but if they are a Unionist then they would be against the essential ethos of the organisation.
      So a Unionist would be welcome in the GAA, in the same way as a Catholic would be welcome in the Orange, that is by turning their back on an essential part of their identity.
      Both of course make great claims of benefits to their community, work with young people etc no doubt with some justification. That is another (well worn) debate!
      But on the point of being open to the ‘other’ community to join, I do see a parallel.

      • jessica September 29, 2015 at 6:45 am #

        very well said gio, agree 100% and couldn’t have put it better

        It is futility to be trying to persuade unionists to be irish.

        You do have a point about not all protestants being particularly unionist just as there are more catholics preferring to remain in the UK so long as it suits their pockets.

        Perhaps we should do more to be more amenable to anyone on any side who has a desire to partake in irish culture. Standing for the anthem at every game is not an essential or desirable part of our culture just as playing the anthem at closing time in bars wasn’t..

  11. Am Ghobsmacht September 28, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    Can’t argue with any of that Dr C.

  12. ANOTHER JUDE September 28, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    I would be in favour of doing away with flags and anthems, not having a tricolour flapping from every other lamp post does not make me feel any less Irish, I often wonder why people surround themselves with flags, is it in case they wake up one morning and forget where they are living? I do agree with PJ Dorrian when he says it would merely be the first of numerous Unionist demands, he/she forgot to mention a ban on any green or orange in team strips. But if it encourages people like George then that`s not a bad thing.

  13. An Dun September 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    Anyone in any doubt as to the current mindset of unionism, a mindset stretching back some centuries now, should have a listen to this afternoon’s talkback programme on radio ulster.

    The very possibility of a Papal visit to the north in 2018 is leaving unionism in a cold sweat…

    Perhaps, Pope Francis could reach out to unionists by not flying the Papal flag, dropping the teaching of Transubstantiation and admitting he is indeed the anti-christ…

    • pointis September 30, 2015 at 1:03 am #

      An Dun, that was extremely funny and made me laugh a lot. We need more humour like yours in this place!

  14. MartinM September 28, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    “I’m aware of the historical origins of the GAA and how Irish nationalism was an important part of its development. But we’re one hundred years and more from that, so we should be looking at what part flags and anthems play in the sport now.”

    Well said Jude. I couldn’t agree more. Self-confidence and hopefully hospitality is now the order of the day.

  15. Perkin Warbeck September 28, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    Listening to another broth of a boyo from Norneverland, Esteemed Blogmeister, it would appear that it’s not flags nor anthems that the GAA ought to be most throwing a tantrum about from Antrim to Kerry and from Wexico to Londonderry.

    Rather ought it be concerned about the game itself (specifically the bogball end of things). According Big Tom McGurk (for it is he !) aka the broth of a boyo from the badger warren of Brockagh, the big ball game of the GAA has come to a crossroads: it must decide whether it wants to be football or basketball.

    Removing the clothespeg quickly from his nose Big Tom moved swiftly on to Rugby, erm, Football to wax orgasmic about Oirland’s demonstration that Canada rhymes with nada, This is but the latest glorious step on the unstoppable Oirish march to RWC triumph. When the island of OIrland will be morphed to mark that increasingly inevitable and wondrous occasion into the www. Ellis Island. (www being small for William Webb World).

    As the voluble Tom did not express his displeasure at the decision to play ‘The Shoulders’ Song’ rather than the hamstrung ‘Soldiers’ Song’ one assumes he was not worst pleased at that musical decision.

    Though as the Oirish team on the second weekend of the RWC included so many old bones against what remained of Romania thus making it The Oldest Team ever to Play International Rugby, it is possible that the Shoulder Pads of Paddyland might have been more accurately described as the Incontinence Pads of Paddyland, by dad.

    Actually, Perkie’s inner GAH gawker has a hunch that it is not so much a case of abandoning the anthem rather than one of changing it. Even on a good day, when the Fat Lady is in fine voice, the national paean can truly be a painful experience, not least in the A-flat region..

    From the Ravenhill Road-long repertoire of Irish airs, ancient,middlebrow and modern, there is a fine diversity to choose from. And one in particular puts its harmonious hand up instantly. Not least for its unique title which would instantly, er, cool the jets of any ruckus.

    A-list authorities with B-beginning names from Beethoven to Behan (ltr, Ludwig von to Brendan ) have described it as ‘their favorite melody of all time registers’. That, of course, would be the one which is of such a celestial nature that the angels themselves never start a day without a tablespoon of the tune: ‘The Coolin’ / ‘An Chuilfhionn’.

    The Behan nod of approval is the important wink here; for the Quare Fella was the nephew of the lyricist of ‘The Soldiers’ Song’, one Peadar Kearney. This approval might therefore be seen as the passing on of, erm, the conductor’s baton.

    But, of course, there would be an element of urgency at play here. Music, the ultimate mobile migrant among the arts, recognises no borders and already there have been claimants from other countries, not least the US of A.

    ‘An Chuilfhionn’, after all, means ‘The fair-haired girl’ or, in the vernacular of Vegas, ‘Blondie’. This would not,of course, be Blondie’s first association with the art of the acoustic. Before she became became Mrs.Blondie Bumstead (on her marriage to Dagwood) she was universally known as Miss Blondie Boopadoop.

    Indeed, her surname / mademoisellename was co-opted into the scat singing song of 1928: ‘I wanna be loved by you’.

    (Which latter song ought seriously to be considered by the fans of both the Irish footie team and the Oirish rugga team. Who are currently engaged in a phenomenally fascinating endgame,i.e. to decide which cohort truly merits the title of ‘The Best Fans in the World’.

    That the Dort-accented Rugga goys and gels are every bit as keen to ‘wanna be loved by the rest of the world’ is evidenced by the attendance at the Romania game in Wombleland yesterday:in thous it was up to 90. Romania are to rugga what, say, Kilkenny are to bogball).

    But back to ‘The Coolin’/ ‘An Chuilfhionn’. While Lenny Bernstein missed a beat when he opted for Maria rather than Blondie to, erm, cool the jets of the Jets in West Side Story, there is no guarantee that such a story will unravel or indeed, unRavel in the East Side of the West Wing of the West Coast itself.

    Gee, Officer Krupkes of Croker gimme one good reason for draggin’ your feet.

    (Gee is short for Gee Double A).

    That is one possible solution to the tantrum over the anthem ; the flag issue would appear to be in rag order, if not rag time. And beyond hope, truly a lost casue.

    When one looks at the flag favoured by both rugga and footie fans (see toss up between the tossers for best/ world, above) one can come only to the conclusion that it is a flag not worth flagellating oneself over: with its one shade of green (the bottle shade) and forty shades of yeller (at last count).

    Shades, ranging from daffodil to banana to school bus to titanium to buttercup to dandelion to canary to tangerene to maze to khaki to golden poppy with -possibly – the title of the majority being just about shaded by: buff.

    Any wonder then, as the breaking news has it, that Jack Grealish has declined to play for Ireland. What other reason, apart from the uncertainly of the flag colours, would have possibly made up his mind for Jack ‘Dosh’ Grealish?

    To conclude: soon the Roy-managed ROI footie team will face the Global Champions from Germany. The melody for whose national anthem ‘Deutschland uber alles’ was penned by der tinpanalley herr, Franz Josef Haydn.

    Last Saturday the eternally youthful George ‘Hi, I’m a Methody old-boy’ Hamilton on Lyric FM immortalised the prolific FJ Haydn as ‘The Robbie Keane of classical composers’. And thus ensured the FJH’s place in the pantheon, for evermore.

    It will be not uninstructive to watch the headtheball known as ‘The Franz Josef Haydn of
    Footie’ stand to attention as the Teutonic tune gets oompahed in the Aviva.

  16. ANOTHER JUDE September 28, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    An Dun, I agree one hundred per cent, Unionism is still stuck firmly in the past, but for the life of me I can`t see a way to change the mindset. Well, I can, but there is no way the twelfth can be scrapped!!

    • jessica September 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

      I personally couldn’t give a monkeys if unionists ever play gaa.

      For me, its about maturity and making sure our flag and anthem are used respectfully.

      Leave unionism with its bonfires, flag burning and marches with swords and lets just make decisions for ourselves.

      I accept unionism for what they are; loons, bereft of culture and so insecure in their own skin that they are obsessed with that nationalists do or what us renegades and rogues might do.

      But its not contagious, catch a grip.

      • George September 28, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

        “I personally couldn’t give a monkeys if unionists ever play gaa.

        For me, its about maturity” Now there’s an oxymoron Jessica if ever there was one!

        • neill September 28, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

          Yes she seems delightful outgoing and very confident indeed…

          • jessica September 28, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

            Why thank you neill

        • jessica September 28, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

          I disagree George, trying to persuade unionists to be irish is the oxymoron and a waste of time and effort.

          Changing with the times off your own free will is a sign of maturity.

          • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 8:57 am #

            “trying to persuade unionists to be irish is the oxymoron and a waste of time and effort.”

            It depends what end of the political spectrum they’re at:

            If they’re the at ‘British nationalism’ end of the spectrum e.g.TUV and DUP, then yes, you’re quite right.

            If you’re more at the NI21 or Brian John Spencer or even (some) PUP end of the spectrum then no, it’s hardly a waste of time.

          • jessica September 29, 2015 at 10:24 am #

            A unionist is a unionist, period. Capital U or lower u

            They are opposing ideologies. If power sharing can work, then perhaps we should look at things. My belief is it wont ever for that very reason and attempts at persuasion are utterly futile.

  17. Eddie Finnegan September 28, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    The danger is, Jude, that when Gaelic Football has really “taken its place among the ball-striking nations of the earth” as an international and Olympic sport, some Croke Park Sepp Blatter equivalent will feel the need to call upon some Stroke City chap at a loose end to produce some pretty awful doggerel such as:
    “Come the day and come the hour,
    Come the power and the glory,
    We have come to answer
    Our Country’s Call
    From the four proud provinces of Ireland.”
    Jude, tell me I’m hallucinating, or did a product of Nobel-winning St Columb’s really churn out an opening verse along these lines, and is this “Ireland’s Call” actually used not only by the devotees of IRFU, but by Irish Hockey, Cricket, Rugby League and (God between us and all harm!) the non-single sex Irish Korfball?

    While my Upper Creggan co-parishioners, Jarlath Burns and Eamonn Mallie, are both young men of parts who have brought some renown to Silverbridge, we really cannot have them promulgating, or aiding and abetting the promulgation of heresy on so-called “Irishtv”. The deflagging and anathematising of anthems, following the declericalising of Fr Kilmurray Park, may continue apace around Ford’s Cross and even extend its influence to captive sporting Youth as far east as Bessbrook & Camlough – but the remaining two-thirds of the parish, Cross Rangers and our own Culloville Blues, cannot be expected to accept this defenestration of all that is sacred.

    Of course, as I suspected above, there is a barely hidden agenda in all this. The current “Eamonn Mallie Meets” series includes Eamonn meeting Phil Coulter not many Sundays hence. May we expect that Eamonn will be playing midwife to Phil’s painful production of yet another replacement for ‘Amhrán na bFhiann’? Perhaps a slight rejigging of that atrocious opening of ‘Ireland’s Call’, simple enough even for fleg-waving groundlings of a Unionist disposition, would be the best solution:


    Tiocfaidh ár Lá,
    Tiocfaidh ár nGlór,
    Tiocfaidh ár gCumhacht,
    Is tiocfaidh ár nGlóir.’

    Maybe even the lads and lassies of Irish Korfball could be persuaded to adopt it?

  18. Am Ghobsmacht September 28, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    For what it’s worth, when I was a teen there were always a few of us in the GAA closet, as in people who liked Gaelic football or hurling but it was simply cordoned off by things such as mentioned in the article (I watched Derry on the TV lift the Sam Maguire with my Orangeman uncle too).

    It’s part of the reason why I took up Shinty for a wee while in Scotland and later tried to join the ill-fated Gaelic football team of my university while I was there.

    Yes, no matter what the GAA does there’ll always be an element of unionism that will scream “NOT ENOUGH!” but little measures like this should be seen as seed planting, you’ll get to see the actual growth as the years pass rather than overnight.

    Every little helps:

  19. Ryan September 28, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    If this is an attempt to “reach out” to Unionism or the Orange Order then its a waste of time. I seem to remember the head of the Orange Order a few weeks back asking for the Irish flag and Irish national anthem to be removed in Fermanagh. It doesn’t take Einstein to work out this suggestion of removing the Irish flag/anthem is pandering to this demand, a demand from an organisation that wont even consider rerouting a parade from contentious areas and has given its full support to a sectarian, illegal camp in North Belfast that sports SAS, parachute regiment, etc flags pointing towards the Catholic community in Ardoyne.

    If the Irish flag/anthem is removed then expect demands for GAA grounds named after Republicans to be renamed. This isn’t due to “sensitivities” (Would Unionists remove the statue of Edward Carson at Stormont due to sensitivities? or rename the village of Craigavon? or rename Cromwell street in Belfast?) its an agenda by Unionism/Orange Order to criminalize these great men/women and everything they stood for. Nelson McCausland even called for Casement Park to be renamed. Is that tolerance of Nationalism/Republicanism?

    The question must be asked: What exactly has Unionism/Orange Order done to reach out to Catholics and Republicans? I cant think of anything. The two main Unionist parties cant even bring themselves to come out and condemn Loyalist violence with SF. We all know they don’t want to share power with Catholics and the peace process is something they didn’t have in mind, its something they are forced to accept.

    I don’t mean to sound gloomy and I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t reach out to the normal protestant people but we shouldn’t pander to the extremists within Unionism that will never be pleased and that will never reciprocate in kind. If Unionists like Tom Elliot cant handle the Irish flag flying over a GAA ground that they don’t even visit then that shows their intolerance towards the Irish.

  20. neill September 28, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    If the GAA were to do what Jarlath and Jude proposed I would congratulate them in moving forward.

    • Páid September 28, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

      Maybe you would Neill but what would you do to reciprocate?

      • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 9:12 am #


        Though you addressed neill, here’s a list of suggestions that I and some other unionists would be okay with (though we’re in the minority at present):

        * Introducing the ILA as agreed (no reason why they can’t tinker with it though, make it a bit more ‘Antrim Gaelic’ friendly and a few other things besides)

        * A flag and anthem for NI

        * The tricolour to be allowed to fly from municipal buildings (strictly alongside a Union Flag and a new NI flag though)

        * Common sense regulations on parades and bonfires

        * A ban on paramilitary paraphernalia and trappings

        * Something to be done about flags flapping from every lamppost (though in fairness, this is hardly a concession to nationalism as unionist areas would benefit most by looking less intimidating and awful)

        * A stadium at the Maze (well, that ship has sailed. And sunk)

        * A ban on poppies being used at paramilitary memorials

        The thing is though, I don’t see the above as ‘concessions’ and some of them may be of no interest to nationalists whatsoever but I see them as common sense acts and not cards to be traded off.

        I would implement them (mostly) regardless of what the GAA or IRFU may do.

        One shouldn’t need an excuse to do the decent thing.

        Furthermore, if you portray the above acts as concessions then unionists would automatically be against them.
        Further still, IF you managed to convince unionists that the above list would be beneficial to NI’s place in the union then nationalists would perhaps reject them(?).

        • jessica September 29, 2015 at 10:26 am #

          I couldn’t care less what unionists would be ok with.

          They shouldnt come into the equation

          • Jude Collins September 29, 2015 at 11:38 am #

            Yes they should, Jessica. They’re our fellow-countrymen and women..

          • jessica September 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

            They wouldn’t agree with you on that Jude

          • George September 29, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

            Thanks Jude.

            You know, just standing back for a moment, I am genuinely shocked at the level of vitriol this article had elicited from your mainly Nationalist / Republican followers. It is abundantly clear that there is no grassroots desire whatsoever to make this an inclusive sport. Jarlath is clearly ahead of his time.

            Of course, they are entitled to that opinion but it only serves to reinforce the stereotype that I and many others from a Unionist tradition have of the GAA – that it is primarily a highly politicised organisation that happens to play traditional Irish sports and promote the Irish language.

            Before reading these posts my perception would have been that there was no equivalence between the GAA and the OO – that the GAA was mainly a sporting organisation that happened to be followed by and played by Nationalists. And the OO could not be described as anything else other than sectarian. No equivalence there whatsoever.

            In fact, whilst the sport itself may not be sectarian, if the posters here are a snapshot of its followers, it would appear that it is every bit as sectarian as the OO. To borrow a well used phrase, “they don’t want a Prod about the place”

            I know Jessica couldn’t care less what I, as a Unionist, think but I wonder if she would care what Sam Maguire, himself a Protestant, would have thought about these enlightened attitudes?

          • jessica September 29, 2015 at 4:38 pm #


            I once felt as Jude does about defending unionists entitlemnt to their irish roots, but no more. I have had my fill of it.

            The recent farce at stormont has convinced me beyond any doubt that unionsists of every shade are not to be trusted and should be ignored.

            You refer to protetants which is a very different thing altogether,
            I am not a catholic. I have no empathy with the catholic church whatsoever.

            If it were the protestant people here seeking a united ireland, britain would have been out long ago.

            I would bend over backwards to share the country equally between protestant, catholic, muslim or whatever religion. I have no interest in sharing anything with unionism however.

            It can go rattle itself.

            Who would have thought old mike nesbit, a seemingly moderate unionist with a very small u on tv would turn out to be one of the biggest of biggots and a sectarian trouble maker.

        • ANOTHER JUDE September 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

          Those are good policies, they could only make this place a better place.

          • ANOTHER JUDE September 29, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

            …….apart from the `national anthem` for the north bit…(walks sheepishly away from blog….)

          • Am Ghobsmacht September 30, 2015 at 9:57 am #

            “apart from the `national anthem` for the north bit”

            Well….. it’s better than having to listen to eejits bellow out “No Surrender” disrespectfully through GSTQ.

        • jessica September 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

          “A flag and anthem for NI”

          I predict a riot might be a good choice for anthem.

          “The tricolour to be allowed to fly from municipal buildings (strictly alongside a Union Flag and a new NI flag though)”

          The tricolour should be flying now.

          “Common sense regulations on parades and bonfires”

          Parades limited to 2 days per year only.
          Bonfires banned altogether, replaced with beacons or non burning entities.

          “A stadium at the Maze (well, that ship has sailed. And sunk)”

          The Hblocks museum open at the maze to public for tourism revenue and stop draining the economy of millions over unionist sensitivities

          The stadium would have already paid for itself had it been available but unionists dropped the ball as usual.

          “A ban on poppies being used at paramilitary memorials”

          People should be able to wear what they want. Who is going to police that, the PSNI?

          Some country this new NI would be.

          Thanks but no thanks

          • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

            Thankyou Jessica

            I shall redirect all calls for unionist concessions and outreach to this comment ,with particular emphasis on the ‘thanks but no thanks’ part.

          • jessica September 29, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

            Oh I know, you wouldn’t trust me to go to the shops and sure equality is a concession in the narrow mind of a unionist.

            I wouldn’t ask a unionist for anything. Thee is nothing I want that is in your gift to give.

            We should work with what we have and take what we are entitled to.

            Unionists do their thing, we do ours. Sure would that not be for the best all round?

        • jessica September 29, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

          What next, should we change the all ireland to the two nations football championship?

          Will St Patrick no longer be our patron saint?

          Why not make the twelfth of July St Billy’s day inclusive for everyone, providing we drop every notion of irishness?

  21. philip kelly September 28, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    i was going to comment but then decided not to as its not worth it !!!!! as i know who i am do you Jarlath

  22. Freddy Mallins September 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    Am Ghob, you ave responded reasonably and in good spirit as always.
    The only point I would make is that most Nationailsts (myself included), do not concede NI to be a legitimate construct and therefore wouldn’t be interested in a National anthem.
    I don’t think any serious contributor would consider NI to be a nation, for a start. It does not have the ability to raise taxes or prosecute war et al.
    NI has obviously become more comfortable to live in, now that there is a modicum of equality ( not in terms of emblems etc) , but I don’t consider myself to be a Northern Ireland man. I think that a little ludicrous. I will however defend your right to consider yourself British. I really don’t believe there is a legitimate middle ground, in terms of Nationhood.
    We can of course still all live together in peace.

    • jessica September 29, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      “It does not have the ability to raise taxes or prosecute war et al.”

      It doesnt have the ability to agree to disagree s is plain to see at stormont.

  23. ANOTHER JUDE September 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    What it all boils down to is the rights of people and countries to rule themselves, to stand on their own two feet, not be ruled by a foreign country especially one that has treated it abysmally and hates the religion of the majority of those people. I do not want to be told what to do by any English/Scottish/Welsh people, why should I? I regard myself as Irish, Irish Catholic at that. Why should a foreign Queen rule me? I have a love for English/British comedy, football and a few other things but I certainly do not want to ruled by them. I also love Italian football and American comedy and Chinese food that doesn`t mean I want them ruling me. We have a situation where the six counties was artificially created by basically sore losers. I think once we accept each other`s political allegiances as equal then we can live in relative harmony.

    • jessica September 29, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

      I would love to see an Ireland that is britains best friend and ally.

      Happy to re-join the commonwealth and encourage strong political, economic and social relations between our people.

      That will never happen while unionism has a voice in this country.

      This country is already a united people.

      Unionists are entitled to hate their own country, burn as many flags and tyres as they wish.

      But don’t let them insult us in the very assembly set up to rule us. If they aren’t fit for office then forget it.

      Let England keep the reigns a while longer. Lets get every penny out of them to rebuild the place and make up for the misrule and neglect they inflicted.

      Don’t make it easy, work with the unions to open their coffers.

      But please no more allowing them tell us how unfit we are, what flag we should be “ALLOWED” to fly,

      It is time we shut the annoying orange up.

  24. Willie D. September 29, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    A few years ago I listened to an interesting interview on R.T.E. radio with a G.A.A. member from Fermanagh, then living in Dublin : he was speaking prior to the St Pat’s Day G.A.A. club finals and was essentially trying to explain what the G.A.A. meant to him and others like him. He said that for him and others, membership of the G.A.A. and participation in its games, provided a non-violent way of expressing their Catholic and Nationalist/Republican identity. Part of that identity was the display of the Irish national flag and playing of the Irish national anthem.
    And herein lies the quandary for the G.A.A. : it was founded to be the sporting wing of Irish Nationalism and as Nationalism was strongly identified with Catholicism, the G.A.A.’s identification with both a political and religious creed was established from the start. I know that in my part of rural Antrim, G.A.A. clubs are essentially like branch organisations of the local Catholic Church and Parish, the priest will invariably be President of the club : in the main local town the identification is explicit as the club bears the name of the church and Parish. That is not to say that there is/was any hostility to these clubs, as most non-Catholics and Nationalists would know people who play Gaelic games and would probably play with them in soccer clubs. As children we would play soccer in farmer’s fields and as the company was “mixed” occasionally we played a game of “Gaelic,” as we always called it. But none of us Protestant participants in these impromptu games would have dreamt of going along to the local G.A.A. club, for while there was no rule to prevent us, the ethos of the club ensured that we accepted it was not for us.
    So I don’t think the removal of the flag and anthem, which are mostly displayed and played at County games, would make much difference. A difference could be made if clubs in areas where community relations have generally been good, adopted a policy of proactive recruitment outwith the community from which they usually draw their membership. But, of course, if substantial numbers of non-Catholics and non-Nationalists then joined the clubs that would water down/erode the very ethos that attracted most G.A.A. members in the first place.

    • Wolfe tone September 29, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

      Willie D, if there is one thing I could agree on is the removal of priests etc from interfering in the running of GAA clubs. Republicans get the blame when accusations of sectarianism are levelled against the GAA when I would argue that the Catholic Church should be blamed. There’s always a priest hovering about or at least trying to involve himself in local GAA clubs.
      Btw most republicans know exactly what the GAA stood for and stands for. They know exactly how Protestants helped create the body just like we know how Protestants help save the irish language. Alas the Catholic Church will not allow that part of our history to be highlighted for hegemonic reasons. Unfortunately some people who believe they are republicans but went through a biased education don’t know this side of their history.
      The Catholic Church played its part in promoting sectarianism. It wasn’t all the orange order.

      • jessica September 29, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

        The catholic church played its part in the worst of times, teaching our children at the risk of their lives in hedges where the british would execute them for breaking the law in educating catholic children.

        There were plenty of great Protestant republicans who wanted nothing more than to run our own affairs with the equality that they new can only come when britain leaves.

        Unfortunately, the catholic church has lost its way somewhat over the last 100 years. Nowhere worse than in Ireland with its interfering role in the state, abuse of children in laundries and its attempt to cover up more recent abuses.

        Having said that, it still plays its part within the education system here. I know noting of its involvement in GAA but religion has no place in politics or legislation.

        Can you imagine what type of country free ps would have if they had full control here.

        • Wolfe tone September 30, 2015 at 10:40 am #

          Jessica, with respect from my experience the catholic education system doesn’t really cover Protestant republicans when it’s teaching history lessons etc. To be more precise the teachers don’t cover the Protestant aspect. The subliminal hint that is taught in schools is that it was a Protestant/catholic conflict. I know lots of republicans who bristle when they are accused of being sectarian. Don’t get me wrong there is no doubt that people within republican groups committed sectarian acts but less is spoken of others within these groups who baulked against these acts.
          I have a teenage girl who had the confidence to challenge a history teacher who was lecturing the class that the troubles and conflicts before that were down to religion eg he would state IRA were Catholic and UVF,RUC Brit army etc were Protestant. If only it was that black and white. She was fit to reel of numerous Protestant republicans who were involved in promoting irish freedom. Maybe he didn’t know that himself but teachers have a duty to highlight and counter the narrative that one side was Catholic and the other was Protestant in an attempt to eradicate sectarianism. I can see why pro six county schools wouldn’t want to teach that but I can’t for the life of me understand why Catholic schools don’t teach it.

  25. Wolfe tone September 29, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    The master plan it seems by irish six county nationalists is to remove everything that might offend unionism in an attempt to show them that irish unification is no threat to them? At this rate the definition of an irish republican or nationalist will be indistinguishable from a British unionist. Pretty pathetic a plan it is because all unionists have to do us say never never never no matter how much nationalists reach out to accommodate them. Burns etc are getting desperate as the unionists have parked the bus and their plan to persuade unionists isn’t working. Time to bring international pressure to bear on the question of unity perhaps? An English man and leader of a British political party has declared he wants a United ireland……..he has done more with that utterance than what a lot of irish people have said it done in the last 20 years. Shameful cowards and chancers.

    • jessica September 29, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

      Here here, it is time our politicians got some bottle and start putting these unionist politicians in their place.

      No Irish language act and no implementation of the equality set out in the GFA, i.e. parity of existing flags and traditions, no assembly full stop.

      I would rather see it shut down than stomach any more unionist put downs and insults.

    • Am Ghobsmacht September 30, 2015 at 10:02 am #

      “The master plan it seems by irish six county nationalists is to remove everything that might offend unionism in an attempt to show them that irish unification is no threat to them?”

      Wolfe Tone.

      To be fair, republicans did make a great deal out of the term ‘neutrality’ and shared space.

      This evidently works both ways, no point in trying to put that genie back in the bottle.

      (Yes, I’m aware that they’ve a long way to go, I don’t need reminding but that’s not the point…)

      “Pretty pathetic a plan it is because all unionists have to do us say never never never no matter how much nationalists reach out to accommodate them”

      I agree that unionism should do more.