Northern Ireland news

Joe Brolly urges GAA chiefs to 'back unity poll'

Joe Brolly said the GAA's 'endorsement and support for a unity poll... is entirely legitimate, peaceable and reflective of our membership's views'

BARRISTER and GAA pundit Joe Brolly has said the association's "endorsement and support for a unity poll... is entirely legitimate, peaceable and reflective of our membership's views".

The former Derry All Ireland winner was tackling the contentious issue of whether the GAA should remain neutral if a referendum is called on the Irish border.

During last year's abortion referendum campaign, it reminded its county boards of the organisation's strict rules against political involvement and insisted no club or county facilities should be provided to either campaign.

However, in recent days senior figures connected with the association have spoken out to urge it to officially step away from such neutrality in the event of a vote on Irish unity.

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In yesterday's Sunday Independent, Mr Brolly described Northern Ireland as "a dysfunctional entity, a pretence that cannot survive" two decades after the Good Friday agreement.

He said during the Troubles "the GAA sustained" nationalists, saying "it was them and us, and us was the GAA".

Claiming "GAA folk up here are feeling isolated and under attack", he accused Sinn Féin of "abdicating all responsibility for (Brexit) by refusing to take their seats in Westminster, something - given the numbers - that could have made all the difference".

"It is time for the most important community and cultural organisation on the island to show leadership, to show loyalty to its northern members, and ready itself to support the poll for Irish unity which is coming down the tracks in the next 10 years."

He argues it has "never been non-political, rather we are non-party political", giving the example of Rule 21 which banned the RUC and British army from being members.

"What could be more political? In the wake of the peace process, in 2001 the GAA were the first public body on the island to endorse and promote the Patten reforms."

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