Dropped Palestinian campaigner John Hurson to speak at GAA club

John Hurson handed over a copy of a pro-Palestinian petition to the Ulster Council in Armagh this week
Connla Young

ONE of the north’s best known GAA clubs has invited prominent Palestinian campaigner John Hurson to give a talk after he was dropped as a social media officer by the Tyrone County Board.

The event, which has been organised by west Belfast-based St Galls GAC, will take place just days after a petition signed by around 1,200 people supporting the Palestinian people was handed over to the Ulster Council.

All Ireland winners Peter Canavan and Oisin McConville, as well as Current Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, were among hundreds of GAA members across Ulster to sign the petition.

It came after Ulster Council officials ordered the removal of two Palestinian flags during a championship game at Healy Park in Omagh last month, although it is believed an attempt to remove them was unsuccessful.

A Tyrone fan, who was holding a Palestinian flag, was arrested during a Tyrone All-Ireland qualifier game against Meath in Navan some weeks later.

He was later given an adult caution and released.

John Hurson pictured with Tyrone All-Ireland winner Peter Canavan

On the same day John Hurson was dropped from his role as voluntary match day social media officer after he criticised the attempt to remove the flags in Omagh.

In a statement issued earlier this week the Ulster Council denied it had banned Palestinian flags from its grounds and said there was no ban “per se” on national flags.

St Gall's vice-chairman Kevin Sheehan said that, while the club has no official policy on flags, it was decided to invite Mr Hurson to speak.

“Sometimes the GAA, whether provincial, central or county, take decisions on the spot and they have not really thought them through,” he said.

“I think people want to use the flag to highlight the ongoing situation in Gaza and Palestine.”

Mr Hurson, who well known for his work with ‘Tyrone to Gaza’ said many people are curious about what has happened.

“People are looking to find out what is going on and what the background is and what they can do to help in light of the ongoing controversy.”

He said there was anger over the arrest of the Tyrone fan in Navan and said he expects to see hundreds of Palestinian flags on display during Sunday’s showpiece Ulster final in Clones.

Mr Hurson will speak tonight at St Galls, at Milltown Row, off the Falls Road, at 8.45pm.

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