Cumann Lúthchleas Gael

I see that DUP Minister Edwin Poots has called for an end to the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann ahead of GAA games in the North.

He has also called for an end to the naming of sports grounds after Irish patriots.

Before I look at his "requests" I would just like to say that I was glad to see Edwin become the first DUP elected official to attend a GAA game.

That aside I think Edwin can stick his requests where the sun don't shine!

It's important to remember that the GAA is much more than a sporting organisation; it is the glue that holds together a great many Irish communities and villages. It now occupies a role which the Church once held.

The GAA has several aims however according to its constitution it aims to be

"A national organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity of a 32 County Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic games and pastimes"

The GAA has never recognised partition, we are still organised under the old province system and Ulster is 9 counties and not the bastardised Unionist version of 6.

For an Cumann Lúthchleas Gael to stop playing Amhrán na bhFiann before matches in the 6 counties would be contrary to the primary aim of the organisation.

The GAA is open for anyone to join however people have to accept that it is not a neutral organisation, it's an Irish sporting organisation.

An organisation which operates on a 32 county basis, they cherish all of the children of the nation equally and are oblivious to the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

They promote the Irish language, music and dance.

People have to accept that, if they can't accept that then the GAA is not for them.

In relation to the naming of grounds after Irish patriots that is also a part of GAA tradition. Now before the revisionists try to label this as a Northern phenomenon I suggest they look a little closer to home.

We have grounds all over the country named after Patriots who fought the British during the Easter Rising of 1916 such as Padraig Pearse, where was their mandate? Does that make them terrorists?

Of course not!

My own club ground is named after two local Volunteers, Jim Lochrie and Sean Campbell. It was a democratic decision taken by club members and if that annoys certain individuals then that really is tough.

The top trophy in Gaelic Football is named after a Protestant Irishman from Cork who was a Lieutenant -General in the IRB and director of intelligence in Britain.

Many of those who attack the GAA as parochial, anti-British and Nationalistic are firstly normally not members. They also fail to grasp the huge role that the GAA has in Irish life.

In my own area the club has a very positive role in the parish. They are the centre of the community and a vital part of that community. I can't imagine Dromintee without the local GAA club.

I also know that they have not been found wanting when it comes to sorting problems in the community.

When we were having a problem with some of the local youths and anti-social behaviour the club added their voice to the community response and said that any youth engaged in such activity would not be playing on any of their teams.

That stopped the nonsense.

Why change a winning formula? After all, Gaelic Football is the most popular sport in Ulster and indeed Ireland as a whole.

While the GAA should make others feel comfortable it should not change the heart of the organisation to satisfy those who will never be satisfied at anything which is openly Irish and proud.

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