Northern Ireland news

GAA says there is no ban on Palestinian flags at grounds

Palestinian campaigner John Hurson with a petition signed by several high-profile GAA members

The GAA last night denied it has banned Palestinian flags from its grounds.

Responding to a petition from around 1,200 of its members, Ulster GAA said there is no ban "per se" on national flags being taken to matches.

All-Ireland winners Peter Canavan and Oisin McConville were among dozens of current and former county players to sign the petition from 'Concerned Gaels.'

The petition came after Ulster Council officials sought the removal of two Palestinian flags during a championship game at Healy Park, Omagh last month. And earlier this month, a match between Tyrone and Meath in Navan saw a Tyrone fans holding a Palestinian flag arrested by Gardai.

Meanwhile, Palestinian campaigner John Hurson was removed from a voluntary position as Tyrone social media officer after he criticised the attempt to remove the flags at Healy Park.

In a statement, Ulster GAA said: "The safety of the teams, supporters and volunteers who run our games is paramount and that duty of care by Ulster GAA is always at the forefront of how we run our games.

"There is no ban per se on national flags being taken into our grounds. However, should any flag cause an obstruction or present a risk to health & safety, for example, due to the size or type of flagpole used, the GAA reserves the right to have that flagpole removed from the grounds.

"Our protocols state that flags other than the national flag, Association flag and the flags of competing teams should not be flown from flagpoles at our games.

"We respect the right of any member to hold their own views or opinions but our games are sporting occasions and our venues are not an appropriate place to express such views. Ulster GAA today accepted a petition from 'Concerned Gaels' and were happy to do so."

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