O’Neill pain at Sherlock’s revelation

GAA president Liam O’Neill said he was appalled to learn that former Dublin star Jason Sherlock was unable to report racist abuse during his career.

Sherlock joined Wexford’s Lee Chin on Friday’s Late Late Show to discuss the problem of racism in sport and described the abuse he received both on and off the field during his Dublin playing career.

“It would be a source of great displeasure for me if anybody playing our sport was insulted in any way or treated discourteously in any way. It grieves me hugely that Jason Sherlock felt 20 years ago when he was treated in an insulting way that he couldn’t say it,” said the GAA president, who was speaking at the launch of Connacht GAA’s €8m centre of excellence in Co Mayo at the weekend.

“The great thing about the Respect initiative and the fact we have a strategy now to safeguard children and to ensure their welfare when they are playing games, means that people in the organisation are confident enough now to say no to the bullies who insult them and are brave enough to come forward and say it.

“The best way to stop this is to out the person who has done it. That is the great thing that Lee Chin and Aaron Cunningham have been brave enough to do. I commend them for it and hope we’ll be able to ensure that for the rest of their playing careers that they’ll be treated with the respect all players deserve.”

O’Neill admitted the GAA may have to review how they deal with breaches of their rules on the matter in the coming months.

“Our Respect initiative is already two years old. So to a fair extent we saw this coming and we saw the fact that we needed to highlight the need for respect, for inclusion, for people being happy playing our sport. Any disrespect to anybody or anything that makes a person involved in our activities, on or off the field, feel less good about themselves is totally abhorrent to me. We won’t tolerate it.”

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