Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 11:21 UK

IRA names could mean GAA fund cut

Nelson McCausland has asked the GAA to carry out an investigation

GAA clubs could have their funding cut if they adopt the names of dead IRA members, the sports minister has said.

Nelson McCausland has asked Sport NI to examine their equality statement, which clubs have to sign if seeking funding, to see if it is "adequate".

The move comes after a hunger strike commemoration at a GAA club in Galbally, County Tyrone, which involved a display with paramilitary elements.

The GAA has begun an investigation into the incident.

"The republican commemoration on the GAA pitch in Galbally was a disgraceful incident. And I think people at the very highest level in the GAA agree with me," said Mr McCausland.

"I met the GAA after that and asked them to investigate the situation and report on it. I also asked them to bring forward recommendations as to how we can ensure this sort of thing never happens again.

"In Belfast there is a children's Gaelic football competition for children under 12, and it is named after one of the founders of the provisional IRA.

"Is that the sort of role model we want children to be given in this day and age?"

Mr McCausland's officials are working with Sport NI, examining clauses in its grant-making arrangements to advise if changes should be considered.

No clauses have currently been breached.

In a statement the GAA said it is "compliant with all public funding requirements and is confident that in all instances its units are also fully compliant in this regard."

It added that the organisation will respond to any consultation process on changes to public funding regulations .

The minister said there was no place in sport for the naming of clubs, grounds or competitions after dead republicans.

'Distinction'

Kevin Lynch's hurling club in Dungiven is thought to be the only GAA club in Northern Ireland named after a paramilitary from the Troubles. He was a member of the INLA who died on hunger strike in 1981.

However, many more clubs are named after Irish revolutionary leaders like Patrick Pearse and Tom Clarke.

The Antrim county ground, Casement Park, is named after Sir Roger Casement who was executed for treason for attempting to smuggle guns into Ireland.

Mr McCausland would not be drawn on whether these historical figures would form part of the review.

The Kevin Lynch's club is the constituency of Sinn Fein MLA Francie Brolly.

He said the issue was "part of a problem the unionist community in general, and the DUP in particular, has with things Irish".

Referring to the name of the club he said: "It doesn't matter about the manner or nature of his death, or why he died," said Mr Brolly.

"It is irrelevant to Kevin Lynch hurling club.

"Kevin Lynch brought great distinction to hurling in Dungiven and in County Derry."

"He was a member of the only County Derry hurling team to win an All Ireland, and he was captain of that team."



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