Racist taunts stain on game
"I HEAR you're a racist now Father," roared Colm, the elderly Craggy Island farmer at the bemused and by now fairly panicky anti-hero, Father Ted. "How did you get involved in that sort of thing?"
TED: "Who said I'm a racist?!"
COLM: "Everyone's sayin' it Father. Should we all be racist now? What's the official line the church is takin' on this? Only the farm takes up most of the day and at night, I just like a cup of tea. I mightn't be able to devote meself to the oul' racism."
The legendary mid-90s parochial sitcom may have shone a whimsical light on what was only then becoming a real issue in Ireland. However, depressing events in Wexford this week regurgitated the sticky subject matter in a GAA context after two Duffry Rovers players were suspended for eight weeks apiece for aiming racist comments at the Wexford-born, Wexford-bred, Wexford senior and Under-21 footballer/ Wexford-Under 21 hurler, Lee Chin in a recent club match.
It must be said that reported incidents of racism within the GAA -- or on the playing fields at least -- have been few and far between and according to GAA president Liam O'Neill this particular instance "has been dealt with in an exemplary fashion. The people who were identified in the referee's report were dealt with and that's the way all disciplinary matters should be dealt with."
Yet, as former Dublin star Jason Sherlock pointed out in a radio interview this week: "In the rulebook it's the minimum punishment, but it's a positive sign to see the referee picked up on it."
Sherlock, whose late father was a native of Hong Kong (and who memorably appeared in a billboard campaign 10 years ago to promote inter-culturalism under the slogan: "He's from a small ethnic minority ... Dubs with All-Ireland medals") also wrote about the subject in his newspaper column, revealing: "Just three years ago, I played in Dublin for St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh and got racially abused by one of the opposition players.
"It is humiliating when it happens, as there's nothing you can do about how you look or your background. And it always leaves a mark.
"I think I can remember every time I was racially abused while playing Gaelic football."
Seán óg ó hAilpín, whose mother, as Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh once revealed, is from Fiji, previously stated that while he suffered under the forked tongues of ignorance in his youth, "a lot of it stopped when I started representing Cork. I had none of it whatsoever during my Cork days."
Still, a final word of warning from Joey Wadding, a Wexford team-mate of Chin's, to those who might seek to lash out verbally in future. He tweeted (@joeywadding) this week: "Those people suspended for abusing Chinner. Obviously didn't see him boxing at the fight night. #beast #serious."