Northern Ireland news

SDLP councillor says GAA has questions to answer over John Hurson

John Hurson pictured with Tyrone GAA legend Peter Canavan
Connla Young

AN SDLP councillor has claimed the GAA in Tyrone has “questions to answer” after a prominent Palestinian campaigner was dropped as the county's match day social media officer.

Malachy Quinn spoke out after John Hurson was made aware of the decision by text as he prepared to travel to Navan for Tyrone's All-Ireland qualifier with Meath on Saturday.

Known for his work with the ‘Tyrone to Gaza' group, Mr Hurson has managed the official Tyrone social media feeds during games involving the county for the past seven years.

He said he carried out the role voluntarily and never claimed expenses.

In the past he has received backing for his campaigning work from high-profile GAA figures including former Tyrone All-Ireland winner Peter Canavan.

Last month Mr Hurson, who is an honorary Palestinian citizen, was critical of a decision by an Ulster Council official to order the removal of two Palestinian flags during a championship match featuring Tyrone and Monaghan in Omagh.

He believes the decision to remove him from his social media role is linked to that incident.

Mr Quinn, from Washingbay in Co Tyrone, said he will be raising the matter with county board officials.

“I will be asking members I know on the Tyrone county board to raise the issue," he said.

“As far as I know there has been no explanation as to why he has been removed.

“I think the county board has questions to answer about what happened to John Hurson.”

The county board last night declined to comment.

During Saturday's match in Navan a Tyrone fan who was holding a Palestinian flag was arrested by gardaí.

The Dungannon man was later given an adult caution and released.

Mr Quinn last night raised concerns about the approach to pro-Palestinian campaigners at some recent GAA games.

The Ulster Council has said the only flags allowed in grounds are are the official GAA flag, national flag and team colours.

“Why was it okay last year and now it's not allowed,” Mr Quinn said.

Meanwhile, the SDLP councillor has also revealed that he has put forward a motion asking Mid Ulster council to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“The only way the international community can put pressure on Israel is the BDS movement,” he said.

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