Hurley sticks are traditionally made from ash
A row over the "Irishness" of sticks used to play a gaelic sport has caused a bit of a diversion in a Northern Ireland town.
It emerged after a Gaelic Athletic Association club applied to the predominantly unionist local council for £400 to buy hurley sticks.
But some unionists on Ballymena Borough Council want the cash withheld, claiming the GAA's rules are discriminatory because they state sports equipment and kit must be made in Ireland.
In fact, hurley sticks are normally carved from the ash tree, often using the finest woods from England and Wales.
Any decision about a grant to Clooney Gaels club, near Ahoghill, has been kicked into touch until the council consults the Equality Commission about the GAA rules.
Councillor Roy Gillespie of the Democratic Unionist Party opposes the grant.
"The GAA rules, as I read them, discriminate against British firms and all their equipment should be of Irish manufacture," he said.
He said the GAA's Rule 4C said the association should support Irish industry - that included playing gear.
"All trophies and playing equipment should be of Irish manufacture," he quoted. "Penalty for non observance £200.
"Irish paper shall be used for all official documents and correspondence. Documents not complying shall be ruled out of order."
But councillor Declan O'Loan, of the nationalist SDLP, believes the council's approach to the Equality Commission is an attempt to stall payment of the funding.
Mr O'Loan said he was concerned about the delay in settling the matter as the grant was applied for more than six months ago.
"We think the objection is politically motivated and arises out of a considerable degree of prejudice against the GAA," he said.
"A number of GAA applications in the past have been consistently argued against and delayed by the same group of councillors."
He said his party had no difficulty with the council obtaining legal advice from the Equality Commission.
But he added: "The only place you can go to buy hurley sticks is in the island of Ireland.
"It would be in the council's own best interest, particularly considering the good relations duty on the council, to pay this grant and have the discussions later about the general policy issue."