FOUR of the five Ulster county boards in the North who did not attend Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Croke Park on Wednesday have claimed they weren’t invited to the event.
County board officials from Tyrone, Fermanagh, Derry and Antrim told the Irish Examiner they were not asked to go to Headquarters for the British monarch’s historic trip.
However, it is understood all counties’ Central Council delegates were extended an invitation to attend.
Only Down were reported to have been represented at the Jones’ Road venue, while it was claimed neither the Donegal, Cavan or Monaghan boards had any officials there.
But a number of delegates from the five counties were unable to get to Croke Park due to work commitments and it is believed the invitation was non-transferable.
Armagh, the fifth Ulster county who had no representation at the visit, refused to comment on the matter.
“It’s not something we want to get involved in,” said county secretary Paddy Óg Nugent. “We will be saying nothing about it whatsoever.”
However, Tyrone chairman Ciaran McLaughlin was adamant in his claim his county hadn’t been requested to be in attendance on Wednesday.
“I’ve no comment to make on it, to be honest, quite simply because the counties weren’t invited individually in the first place,” he said, “and that’s the bottom line.
“There’s no point in me saying anything more about it. People can say what they want but I know the facts and that’s what I’m sticking with.”
Fermanagh secretary Tom Boyle also insisted his board had not been asked to attend.
He also raised the issue of GAA President Christy Cooney’s letter to counties instructing them that he was the Association’s only spokesperson on the event at Croke Park.
“The only correspondence we got from Croke Park was the letter in which we were told the only person allowed to comment on the queen’s visit was the Uachtarán,” stated Boyle.
“I have had no more correspondence about it since then.
“The information that seems to have gone out seems to imply all county secretaries and chairmen were invited to the event. They were not all invited to the event.
“I can understand why some people weren’t invited because of keeping up appearances and all that sort of thing. But there was no formal invitation sent to the Fermanagh secretary or chairman.”
Derry secretary Liam Peoples echoed Boyle’s point about being told not to comment about the occasion.
“We were instructed not to speak about the visit. The only person permitted to was the president but nobody else was given the opportunity to comment.
“I don’t know what the protocol was, whether there were some people invited and some people who weren’t but I wouldn’t be annoyed about it.”
Peoples’ equivalent in Antrim, Frankie Quinn, confirmed neither he nor the board received an invitation to be present for the queen’s visit.
“No invitation came to me for me personally or the county board,” he said.
While maintaining their silence about the visit as requested by Cooney, several officials in Ulster are furious with the manner in which the matter has been dealt with by central GAA powers from a public relations perspective.
Some have even suggested they have been “gagged” by Croke Park.
Cooney’s directive had been an attempt to ensure the Association maintained a dignified response to the visit.
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