Ulster GAA to probe racial abuse claims

Published Monday, 03 December 2012
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The Ulster GAA will set up a committee this week to investigate claims that a Crossmaglen player was the victim of racial abuse during Sunday's Ulster club championship final against Kilcoo.

Ulster GAA to probe racial abuse claims
Aaron Cunningham and his father Joe with the Ulster club championship trophy. (© Aaron Cunningham)

Aaron Cunningham, whose father was one of the first black GAA inter-county players, alleged he was racially abused by two Kilcoo players during the match.

In a statement, Ulster GAA said they will investigate the claims and "deal with the alleged incident in line with the rules of the Official Guide of the association".

"The GAA is an anti-racist organisation by rule and will not tolerate in the strongest and most emphatic terms racist abuse of any type."

President of the Ulster Council, Aogan O'Farrell said a group will be established on Tuesday night who will investigate what happened.

"They will examine the referee's report and speak to any officials they deem it necessary to speak to," he said.

"Any proven case of abuse within the association on the field or indeed off the field which is considered to be sectarian or racial in nature is a very, very clear abuse of our roles and we will and do deal with these issues."

Mr O'Farrell said racial abuse within the GAA is very rare and there is a firm policy against it.

"We don't have a racial abuse problem in my opinion. It does happen occasionally and we deal with it and the fact that we do have one, I think it's a testament to the fact that people are very good and tolerant in the whole sense of being inclusive to everybody," he added.

After the game, Aaron Cunningham told the Irish Times: "I don't want to let it overshadow what has been a good game and a 10th title for us, three-in-a-row and number five for myself. But I feel it has to be said, because what was said has no place on a football pitch."

His father, Joey, played for Armagh and Crossmaglen in the 80s.

Kilcoo condemned the alleged abuse and said they will cooperate with any investigation by the Ulster Council.

"Kilcoo GAC is an all inclusive club which prides itself in appealing to all sections of our community, and is shocked and saddened to hear of any allegations of racial abuse following the Ulster Club Final," said a club spokesman.

Margaret Ritchie, SDLP MP for South Down, was at the match and said racist remarks are "totally out of order and are not in keeping with the good-game-manship of the GAA".

"The GAA is all embracing. They want to embrace those of mixed race and they are already doing it. I hope that what happened - and we've to establish the facts of it - does not happen again, and that the GAA will take whatever action," she said.

Crossmaglen won the Ulster Club Championship for the third year in a row on Sunday after defeating Kilcoo 3-9 to 1-9 at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.

© UTV News
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21 Comments
Frosty in Here wrote (631 days ago):
@ Padraig in Dungannon, you still don't get it do you? you "make no apologies for supporting the right of a club to name a competition or tournament after someone has contributed to that club", yet you are either blind ignorant or blinded by bigotry. What contribution did he make towards peace did he make?
patrick in tryone wrote (632 days ago):
now ame not saying the gaa are perfect far from it but when ur own side of the coin has the orange order when people talk about racism sexism or bigotry time to leave the room
Padraig in Dungannon wrote (632 days ago):
Well obviously this has been sidetracked from it being about a couple of racist fools who should be ousted from the GAA, to being about the organisation as a hole. @Iain in belfast i make no apologies for supporting the right of a club to name a competition or tournament after someone has contributed to that club..simple! WTF in Ards hypothetically if they contributed to a club (Not that I think either of them did) then why not..that would be up to its members to decide not me...
Linda in NI wrote (633 days ago):
Really PD in Belfast neanderthals & bigots - and your not and for the record I didnt say there was anything right about Irish soccer? If GAA wants to become truly cross community it needs to have a massive change. You need to take a long hard look at your own bigotry before you condemn me.
PD in Belfast wrote (633 days ago):
LOL, oh that is hilarious Linda. This is the very first case of alleged racial abuse by any GAA fan - and you're calling for funding to be stopped?? What about the rampant racism within the IFA? What about the institutional racism and sectarianism within most Irish League soccer clubs? You've shown yourself to a true bigot. Thankfully the majority of the people of NI now simply laugh at Neanderthals like yourself.
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