Clashes over GAA remarks

Sinn Fein's Patrice Hardy

Sinn Fein's Patrice Hardy

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Sinn Fein and the TUV have clashed after Mid & East Antrim’s Deputy Mayor labelled the GAA as being ‘intertwined with terrorism’.

It is understood that Bannside TUV representative, Timothy Gaston made the remarks in a closed Council session during which he unsuccessfully proposed that the GAA should be denied small grants funding. It seems that Cllr. Gaston’s comments were leaked to Belfast news outlets who contacted Sinn Fein Councillor Patrice Hardy, who also sits for Bannside on Mid & East Antrim, for her comments.

The TUV's Timothy Gaston with party leader Jim Allister.  INBT22-231AC

The TUV's Timothy Gaston with party leader Jim Allister. INBT22-231AC

She said: “The Deputy Mayor made a number of appalling and offensive comments about the Association which embraces every section of the community, champions equality, is non-party political, non-sectarian and anti-racist. Given the fact that members of the GAA have been murdered by loyalist paramilitaries Mr Gaston’s comments were inflammatory and dangerous and should be withdrawn immediately.”

But Cllr Gaston hit back, citing the Kevin Lynch Hurling Club in Dungiven which is named after an INLA hunger striker. Referring to Lynch, he added: “What sort of sport names its clubs after someone who engaged in an activity which can deny people the ability to ever walk again, never mind play GAA or any other sport? And just a few years ago Galbally Pearses Club gave out medals with the picture of a dead IRA terrorist to children under 12.

“If there are people uncomfortable with these facts being pointed out they should take the matter up with the GAA. Does Cllr Hardy deny that this is the case? Indeed, does Cllr Hardy even believe it was wrong? TUV has always been clear when it comes to violence and murder. There would be a great many more people alive in Northern Ireland today if Sinn Fein/IRA could say the same.”