Cork’s army of loyal GAA fans vowed today to rebel against calls to ban the red and white American Confederate flag from matches.
The Socialist Worker’s Party (SWP) claim the flag is racist and insults people from ethnic backgrounds but the Cork County Board insist fans are unaware of its connotations.
A vast red and white sea of flags proudly flutters in the breeze at the Rebel County’s All-Ireland Championship matches, but the SWP is determined to have one of them banned.
Joe Moore, SWP Cork spokesman, said: “We know the county colours are red and white but it’s unfortunate one of the flags being flown is the Confederate flag from America.
“It represents the promotion of racism and slavery but Ireland is a multi-cultural society and such symbols should not be on display.
“Cork is the Rebel County but the name comes from the fight for national independence. The rebel flag comes from a totally different context where people in the US were protecting slavery.”
He believes the Cork board should take on the responsibility of educating fans about its history and then call for a voluntary ban before taking further action.
But the board and supporters have laughed off the calls, claiming supporters have simply chosen the flag for its colours.
Mick Dolan, the board’s vice-chairman, said the idea of banning a certain flag and checking them before games was completely impractical.
“It’s ridiculous, the flag’s just red and white,” he said. “Our fans also wave the Japanese rising sun flag, the Canadian flag, the Ferrari flag, but they mean nothing except for the colours.
“I don’t think the people waving the Confederate flag even know what it stands for and it would certainly not be my place to tell them what flags to use.”
Donncha O’Leary, the owner of Cashman’s pub in Cork city, a popular supporter’s bar, said he was disgusted that GAA fans were being linked to Confederate America and said the SWP should be concentrating on more important issues.
“It’s just about the county colours, the SWP is picking on one flag and don’t have a clue,” he said.
“The local market sells flags from around the world and supporters pick this up but have no idea where it’s from.
“There are more important things to worry about, this is maybe just one flag flown amongst some 30,000.”
The red, blue and white Confederate flag represents the 11 US Southern states which formed a republic in 1861 in order to preserve slavery and states’ rights.
It was associated with the Ku Klux Klan and still sometimes used as a symbol of oppression and racism.