Hurling and camogie

Donegal's Sean Dunnion rejects Aogán Ó Fearghail's remarks on national anthem

Donegal county chairman Sean Dunnion (centre)  
Gerry McLaughlin

A TOP Donegal GAA official has rejected GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail’s comments on the association potentially ending the playing of the national anthem and flying the tricolour at its matches in the future.

County chairman Sean Dunnion said a “discussion like that was premature”. However, former player Eamon McGee said he had no strong feelings either way.

“At the end of the day, a flag is a flag and is it going to keep many people away from Gaelic games?” asked McGee. 

“Those people who stay away from Gaelic games are going to find a reason not to play Gaelic.”

Speaking in Dubai, the president said, in a new “agreed Ireland”, it might be appropriate to reconsider the GAA’s approach to the emblems of the Irish nation.

Ó Fearghail said he accepted the anthem and tricolour “causes more difficulty at home”. It has been previously suggested unionists might be more amenable to Gaelic games without the national flag and the playing of the anthem.

However, county chairman Dunnion said it would be premature: “Other countries’ national anthems are always played around the world and the national flag is always on display at games in various countries.

“The US anthem is played at the Super Bowl and the flag is on display. If you go to rugby internationals, the national anthem of each country is played before these matches, so why should we be any different?”

Dunnion said he was puzzled by what the president’s intention was when he made the statement: “We would not be supporting his call at present. Our national anthem and national flag are integral parts of our culture and I would expect them to remain for a very long time.

“I am not sure about the context of this statement and Donegal would oppose it and I don’t see it being even any kind of a shred of reality in the long-term future.”

McGee, though, was more relaxed about the issue, saying: “I have no real strong feelings on it, but if we sit down in a few years time and find that a large portion of people are not going to play GAA or are offended because of the playing of the national anthem and flying of the flag, then we will probably have to look at it.

“But it is really a non-issue. I think the president was asked a question and he made a comment on it and he gave his opinion and it is probably a bit of knee-jerk reaction going on.

“He is not saying we are getting rid of the flag and anthem, he is saying we are open to it. What they will do is that they will look at it. Flags and anthems don’t bother me. If there is a game on, I turn up.

“But the flag and the anthem is very important to a lot of people, so you would probably have to take their opinions more into account than mine. I just don’t feel strongly enough about it.”

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