GAA Football

British Army GAA team cleared to play in London championship

 A casting vote at deadlocked meeting secured affiliation for Irish Guards - seen her trooping the colour - to the GAA in London

A BRITISH army regiment has been given the go-ahead to field an official GAA team in London.

The Irish Guards made an application to the London GAA, asking if they could participate in next season's junior championship in the city.

A vote by London GAA clubs ended tied, with County Board chairman Noel O'Sullivan using his casting ballot to accept the new team.

He said: "Very simply for me I can see both sides. I can appreciate the way people feel. But we have to move forward, don't dwell on the past."

The new club, called Garda Eireannach, already has 15 players including some Irish-born footballers as well as soldiers from Fiji and South Africa.

Labour MP Conor McGinn, who was born in Camlough, south Armagh, welcomed the GAA's decision.

“This is a hugely positive development and underlines how far we have come," he said.

“The difficult history between the GAA and the British Army is well-documented, and so this is a significant moment both for the Irish in Britain and for relations between Britain and Ireland.

“The GAA has once again shown its commitment to building peace and reconciliation within and between these islands."  

For more than a century, a GAA rule banned members of the British security forces from membership of the association.

Rule 21 as it was known was introduced in 1897 and effectively banned police and British soldiers from playing Gaelic games. It was only abolished in 2001, two weeks after the establishment of the PSNI.

The Irish Guards moved from their base in Aldershot, Hampshire, to Hounslow Cavalry Barracks in London in June of this year.

The regiment will be stationed at Hounslow for the next three years.

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