Punishment inadequate, says O’Neill

The Ulster Council have been defended for their handling of the recent sectarian abuse case — but the punishment as per rule was inadequate, says GAA president Liam O’Neill.

Punishment inadequate, says O’Neill

Cavan’s Gearóid McKiernan was issued a two-game suspension arising from his sending off in last Sunday week’s McKenna Cup game against Monaghan for comments directing towards Drew Wylie.

The maximum ban the Ulster Council could give the player was two games. A motion will go before Congress next month to increase the penalty, while O’Neill also suggested the guilty party in such circumstances should undergo a re-education course as part of their punishment.

He expressed his sympathies with Wylie, who was also alleged to have been subjected to similar abuse in a club league game in May 2013 when his Ballybay side walked off the pitch.

“It was beyond regrettable,” said O’Neill. “We regret it terribly. The organisation is upset about it, I’m upset about it and on behalf of the organisation I would just like to say we’re very, very sorry it happened to him. I can’t be any more straight about it. I was shocked, disappointed for him.”

O’Neill explained why the Ulster Council could only impose a two-game suspension. “The referee correctly applied the rule in this case and I want to commend him for that. The rule at the moment is competition-specific and it’s time-specific and the rule as it is in the rulebook was applied perfectly by Ulster Council.

“We now accept it’s not adequate. We reached the stage where we thought it was adequate. It’s not adequate and what we’re going to do is deal with it immediately. There will be a motion to Congress to strengthen that rule and increase punishment.”

As well as looking at re-education programmes for players found to have made such comments, GAA are considering the units of fans deemed to have done similar will have to undergo such modules as part of their penalty.

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