GAA Football

In the Irish News on April 25 1997: Eddie Irvine flags up issues of abuse over tricolour

In 1997 Formula One driver Eddie Irvine appealed for sectarian abuse of his parents to stop after he appeared on a podium under the Irish tricolour.

Eddie Irvine yesterday made an impassioned plea for an end to the sectarian jealousy that greeted his recent podium finish.

Irvine's parents received threatening telephone calls at their home after the Irish tricolour was raised when he finished second in the Argentinian Grand Prix nearly two weeks ago.

Although he was born in Newtownards, Co Down, Irvine lives in Dublin and races under an Irish licence.

The 31-year-old, whose request for a neutral flag to be raised in Buenos Aires was turned down because a recognised flag must be used, hopes a non-sectarian symbol can be used in future.

"I'm an Irishman, I was born in Northern Ireland so that makes me British as well," said Irvine.

"I suppose I'm Irish when it suits me and British when it suits me to be British.

"Some people did not agree with the tricolour being raised in Argentina but then some people wouldn't agree if the Union Jack was raised.

"It doesn't cause me any problems, but it caused my parents problems and people who work for me. People just read into it what they wanted and gave them hassle."

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Pascal Canavan will be given the opportunity of an oral hearing in front of the GAC to discuss the suspension which looks set to rule him out of Tyrone's Ulster championship opener against Down on May 18.

It was confirmed yesterday that Canavan was reported for striking in the Division One relegation play-off at Clones nearly three weeks ago which makes him ineligible for the clash. But a penalty has still not been decided as the case was deferred during Wednesday night's GAC meeting at Croke Park.

GAC secretary Sean O Laoire yesterday confirmed that Canavan would be given an oral hearing if he so wished to give his version of events. "We will accomodate Pascal and attend to his needs," insisted O Laoire.

Although the next GAC meeting isn't scheduled until late May, O Laoire said the committee would be willing to arrange something earlier to suit Canavan.

Tyrone secretary Dominic McCaughey confirmed yesterday that he had received a fax from Croke Park, detailing that match referee Adrian Walsh from Dublin had reported Canavan for striking.

Canavan was lined along with Ciaran Brady of Cavan during the game. Although striking is an automatic four-week ban, in Canavan's case this could be doubled because of a previous offence in the Ulster semi-final win over Derry in June 1995. Under rule 137 (c) any similar offence committed within a two-year period means a doubling of the suspension.

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The Department of the Environment last night confirmed it was negotiating with a possible major sponsor for the Senior British Open to be held at Royal Portrush in July.

And it is believed that drinks giant Guinness will also announce a £50,000-plus cash injection for the tournament. If a major sponsor is found this year it will be a welcome boost for the event which cost the DOE around £400,000 to stage last year and will cost much the same this time.

It had been hoped the Senior would be the precursor to other major golf events coming to Northern Ireland, but the consistent problem of attracting major sponsors to the Royal Portrush tournament has not been encouraging.

A major sponsor for the 1997 event and the prospect of a new IRA ceasefire could resurrect those hopes.

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