New York GAA chairperson Joan Henchy says the city is a scary place to be right now as it experiences civil unrest on top of being one of the places worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
As if the over 24,000 deaths in New York wasn’t bad enough, the violence in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd when taken into custody in Minneapolis last week has raised fear and trepidation.
On Monday, former Crossmaglen Rangers footballer Aaron Cunningham, now playing for Longford GAA club in New York, was among those protesting in the Black Lives Matter march.
Henchy appreciates the concerns of Cunningham and is hoping dialogue can begin in earnest on the issue of racism in the US.
“Everybody is holding their own,” said the Tarbert woman of the GAA community in New York. “These are very scary times at the moment with Covid and the incident with George Floyd. It has reignited issues that we have had in the past.
“No more than anywhere in the world, there is racism and it needs to be addressed and the lines of communication have to open.
“The protesting is fine but there is tension in the area. We have a few opportunistics who have been hitting the local jewellers and our local one on McLean Avenue was done last (Monday) night. These are people who are taking advantage of the cops who are otherwise busy.
“For the most part, our community is fine. We’re still working on the Sláinte 2020 initiative. We’ve people out of work, those who are undocumented who have no income coming in so our focus is on them, really.
“Tensions are high, people are nervous but all we can do now is pray for peace and understanding and an end to the rioting and that some middle ground can be found in all of this.”
After New York’s footballers ran 1,000km last month, their hurlers still plan to stage another fundraiser for the Sláinte 2020 hardship fund when they are looking to make 100,000 strikes in two hours.
Henchy hopes the board’s competitions control committee will be in a position to organise championships for later in the summer.
“We are very at the mercy of New York State’s reopening plan. Because a lot of us are in the city and Gaelic Park is in the Bronx we have to wait for the city’s strategic plan.
“We would imagine we’re either stage three or four. It had been moving in the right direction. With what has happened now, have we caused ourselves a setback? I don’t know. We’re hopeful for the middle of July for something and we’ll obviously condense our schedule to make it fit and get something played.
“Right now, I think people are eager to get back to some sort of normality. Obviously, we have an amount of changes to make to how we organise games.
“We’re not just going to go running in the door of Gaelic Park now without a care in the world. We’re putting together a tactical reopening plan for when and if.”