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Will not there to remove national anthem or tricolour from GAA, Mickey Harte says

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has said the will is not there "at the moment" to stop playing the national anthem and flying the tricolour at GAA matches. Picture by Ray McManus, Sportsfile
Gareth McKeown

TYRONE manager Mickey Harte has said the will is not there "at the moment" to stop playing the national anthem or flying the tricolour at GAA matches.

The Ballymacilroy man has said such radical changes will only happen when "the time is right".

The president of the GAA suggested last year that the association may stop the two traditional practices.

Aogán Ó Fearghail said the flag and anthem "causes more difficulty..at home" - meaning largely in the north.

In an interview with BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback on Monday, Mr Harte said he is in favour of change if it is for the "greater good".

"There was a time in the 70s when you weren't allowed to play, in inverted commas, foreign games and play in the GAA, so that changed," he said.

"And then there was a time when Croke Park wasn't open to other sport, there were times when the police force from this part of the world were not allowed to play. So these things changed over time, but they have to change when the time is right.

"People will know if it's the right thing to do and if it's not the right thing to do for the greater good, then it won't happen - so we have to wait and see and let time take care of that."

"I don't think there's a will there at the moment to do anything like that because it is very dear to many people," he told Talkback.

Mickey Harte on BBC's Talkback on Monday

Mr Harte also spoke of his strong faith and how it has helped him deal with the death of daughter Michaela - murdered while on her honeymoon six years ago.

"It (her death) consumes you initially, but I think in my case, with my faith that I have in God, you get the capacity to move it to the side.

"It doesn't mean to say that it goes away, that it doesn't exist but you learn how to control it, learn how to put it in a place that it doesn't have to be in your face all the time.

"Of course you'll be reminded of it by the things in life, and people and memories. But, at the same time, you learn to live in a new place and I'm grateful that grace has come my way," he said.

Mickey Harte hopes to continue as Tyrone manager for "another number of years". Picture by Philip Walsh

In the same interview Mr Harte expressed his desire to stay as manager of the county side for "another number of years".

"I still really enjoy what I'm doing and I love doing it for Tyrone, with Tyrone players and with the help of God I will get to do it for some more time," he added.

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