herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

GAA legends warn of 'backlash' if anthem and flag are dropped

O’Fearghail sparked a debate Picture: Photocall
O’Fearghail sparked a debate Picture: Photocall

GAA legends are split on a suggestion made by the association's president that the national anthem and flag could be dropped from future events.

GAA President Aogan O'Fearghail said the organisation may consider dropping the national anthem and flag from GAA events in the event of "political realignments on the island of Ireland".

O'Fearghail said the GAA wanted to be inclusive of future agreements in place for the whole of Ireland. However, this suggestion has been met with criticism from GAA stars across the country, with legendary Dublin goalkeeper Paddy Cullen ridiculing the idea.

"At this stage, we shouldn't even be considering something like that,"Cullen said.

Haka

"Look at the All Blacks. Imagine they were told to do away with their haka. That's part and parcel of your culture, you just can't do away with that."

Former Dublin captain Paddy Christie, however, commended the GAA on its open-minded approach and said he would be open to the idea.

"It [the national anthem] only covers people who speak the national language and that is few and far between, so if there was an anthem in years to come that meant more to people in other countries then I wouldn't have a huge problem with that," he said.

"I know it sounds anti-nationalist or unpatriotic, but the world moves on.

"I was very proud as a player, the hairs would stand on the back of your neck with the national anthem, but at the end of the day, things change. If it's a multi-cultural society we're trying to encourage to get involved in the GAA, then I would be very open to looking at different ways.

"You don't forget about your history, but you can recognise it and can always change things."

Former Meath All-Ireland winning captain Graham Geraghty said there would be a backlash across the GAA community if the idea was formally tabled.

Diplomatic

"I suppose he's probably trying to be diplomatic in some way, but I definitely wouldn't like to see it go away and I don't think it'll happen," Geraghty said.

"It's probably something he has to say they'll have a look at.

"I definitely wouldn't agree with his comments anyway, but that's the beauty of where we live, you have the right to your opinion whether it's right or not.

"As head of the GAA, I don't know whether that's his own opinion or the opinion of the congress.

"He's answerable to the people as well, so I think his comments are premature.

"If it was on the cards I think there'd be too much of a backlash, I can't see it happening," he added.

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