GAA President in appeal to Cork fans over Confederate flag

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail has called on Cork supporters to police themselves in relation to the appearance of the Confederate flag at matches.

For the second time in six days, the controversial flag, associated with a recent racist mass murder in the US, was visible at a Cork game.

Waved at the Munster football final in Killarney earlier this month, another version of it was seen on Semple Stadium’s Killinan End terrace during the hurlers’ qualifier victory over Clare last Saturday evening.

Ó Fearghail admitted he was uncomfortable with the appearance of the Confederate flag at GAA matches but said the organisation have no fixed stance on emblems.

“Cork certainly have an affinity with the colours. They identify in Cork I believe with a rebellious attitude, even though I believe that goes back to Perkin Warbeck and an English tradition rather than an Irish tradition of rebelliousness. So history skews things.

“The Confederate flag is not a flag I personally would be comfortable with. I wouldn’t be comfortable with a Nazi symbol – it also has red. Stopping everybody coming in with a flag, I’m not sure we’re in a position to go do that. People need to take personal responsibility in these cases.

“Certainly, anything that is racist or sectarian is against our rules.”

A Palestine flag appeared at the vacant Town End in Semple Stadium on Saturday during the Tipperary-Louth second round football qualifier. However, it was removed during the Dublin-Limerick hurling game that followed.

Ó Fearghail remarked: “It’s unfortunate when anybody does anything to incite a difficulty. If people wave flags and one flag is taken away and one isn’t, that will always cause unrest. It would be nice if people took personal responsibility and did a little investigation themselves as to what their banner means.”

Speaking at the launch of the All-Ireland hurling championship in Dicksboro GAA club yesterday, Ó Fearghail also commented on news of the Central Competitions Control Committee’s decision to investigate the incident in a recent Dublin-Armagh football challenge game that left Dublin’s Davy Byrne with a broken nose.

He also said the counties are obliged to hand over any video footage of the game to the CCCC.

“I think if something happens that is against our rules and regulations that it should be dealt with it. You can’t gently hit someone or you can’t hit him a wee bit, if a strike takes place it takes place. If it has occurred it should be dealt with and all the evidence should be gathered and I would expect our CCC to do that.”

He continued: “There are no games behind closed doors as far as I’m concerned. I don’t like that idea, I don’t think that’s healthy and I don’t think there was a game behind closed doors. It was a game that permission was sought for, permission was granted.”

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