Racism organisation calls on GAA to ban Confederate flag

REBEL YELL: A Cork fan waves a variation of the Confederate flag during the team parade in the Munster SFC final at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney.

Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) have called on the GAA to ban the Confederate flag from their grounds after a variation of it appeared in Fitzgerald Stadium at the Munster SFC final last Sunday.

Some Cork supporters have traditionally brought the Rebel Indian variation of the flag to matches associating the rebels with the county’s own nickname as well as the shared red and white colours.

However, the flag has become increasingly associated with racism in Europe and the US especially following its links to a gunman who shot dead nine African-Americans in South Carolina last month.

The state’s senate this week took the first steps to removing it from their Capitol grounds.

Two-time US Masters winner Bubba Watson, who owns the “General Lee” car made famous by The Dukes of Hazzard 1980s TV programme, has revealed he will be painting over the Confederate flag which is displayed on the roof of the vehicle. While Dale Earnhardt Jr, a legend in NASCAR, the US’ second most popular TV sport, wants the emblem banned from the sport, describing it as “offensive to an entire race”.

SARI’s international and education officer Ken McCue confirmed they had received a report of the flag being flown by a spectator at the game in Killarney. He had also been made aware there were Confederate flags on sale from a stall in Cork’s Patrick Street in the middle of last week.

He said: “We’re calling on the Cork County Board to issue a statement asking the fans to desist because it’s a flag of hatred. It sends out the wrong signals. We would call on stewards to be vigilant to make sure it doesn’t appear in grounds.

"We had a local arrangement with guards around Croker. There was a fella from Ballybough selling Confederate flags and they were snatched off him” The Cork County Board, the Munster Council and the GAA did not comment on the matter.

The GAA’s Official Guide states the organisation is anti-racist and “any conduct by deed, word, or gesture of sectarian or racist nature or which is contrary to the principles of inclusion and diversity against a player, official, spectator or anyone else, in the course of activities organised by the association, shall be deemed to have discredited the Association”.

The Football Against Racism Europe website confirms the confederate flag as a discriminatory symbol in European soccer as it has been “appropriated by far-right football fans and often displayed to convey racist message”.

McCue continued: “We were made aware that there were Confederate flags sold in Patrick Street last Thursday. I mentioned it to Sean Sherlock (Minister for State/Cork East Labour TD) in Dublin last week.

“Myself and Peadar King, a Kerryman living in Cork, in the past mounted a campaign against the flag and we wrote to the GAA and they wrote back saying it’s a tradition in Cork because they see it as a rebel and they’re the Rebel County.

"You think of it now especially with the shootings and it’s been banned in shops in parts of the United States. What we would be afraid of is if the games get to Croke Park and Sky, for example, are covering them and it’s goes coast to coast in the States.

"It did happen before when we got calls from the United States complaining about a flag seen on the TV. It sends out the wrong message.”


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