The Cork County Board and the GAA have been called on to outright ban the Confederate flag from stadiums following a version of it being brandished by a Cork supporter at Croke Park on Sunday, writes Rob McNamara.
Images of a fan holding a variation of the flag on Hill 16 appeared on social media during Cork’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Waterford less than 24 hours after violent skirmishes at a far right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA saw one woman killed and several injured.
The Confederate flag was used by the secessionists of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Secessionists advocated slavery.
It has since been appropriated for use by segments of the far right in the United States but is also regarded as a symbol of southern pride by some in the US.
County Cllr Joe Harris said the flag should be banned and people should be educated on its history and meaning.
“It’s insensitive in the current situation. Our sports are being shown all over the world and it sends out the wrong signal,” said Mr Harris.
“It’s a very small minority and I think they are aware that it’s controversial. It’s something that needs to be looked and I know Cork fans have a tradition of a lot of different flags but people should be educated on the connotations of the Confederate flag. It’s offensive to a lot of people,” he added.
The United Against Racism (UAR) group said a lack of education on the symbolism attached to the flag is the reason it is still being used.
“It’s time to educate people on what the Confederate flag actually represents. It symbolises white supremacy, racism and the subjugation of black people in America for of years,” stated UAR spokesperson Nigel Gallagher.
“If people knew that and the offence that it can cause, they’d think twice about it and we should be creating awareness, particularly with what is after happening in Charlottesville.
“If it was a flag with a swastika on it, people wouldn’t even attempt to bring it in. It’s really the same kind of politics that is associated with the Confederate flag – the idea of a white race and supremacy.
“The GAA should be making an effort and telling supporters not to bring these flags,” he added.
A spokesperson for the Cork County Board said they would be making no comment on the use of the Confederate flag by supporters as the issue has yet to be discussed at board level, while the GAA did not reply to a request for comment.
This story appeared first in the Evening Echo