Northern Ireland news

Jim Wells blasted after he labels the GAA 'sectarian'

Jim Wells called the GAA 'sectarian'

ALL-Ireland winner turned assembly member Justin McNulty has described a DUP counterpart's claim that the GAA is "sectarian" as "divisive and offensive language".

The former DUP health minister made the remarks in the assembly yesterday during the debate on the Executive Committee (Functions) Bill.

Speaking in support of an Ulster Unionist amendment that would allow the assembly more time to scrutinise the legislation, the South Down MLA said in future a Sinn Féin communities minister could "spend a vast amount of money to make Casement Park even grander".

"That would cause huge concern among the unionist population given the sectarian, republican nature of the GAA," he said.

Sinn Féin member Sinead Ennis urged Mr Wells to retract his remarks, saying it was "sad" that he would label a sporting organisation in such a manner.

A spokesman for the Ulster GAA rejected Mr Wells' claim.

"We are clearly not a sectarian organisation and as the largest sporting body in the province we ensure our cross-community activities take priority alongside our sporting activities," the spokesman said.

Mr McNulty, who in 2002 won the all-Ireland football final with Armagh, said there were hundreds of GAA clubs across Ireland who had "done more to reconcile our communities and bring people together than Jim Wells ever will".

"It is incredibly disappointing, but not a bit surprising, that he continues to use divisive and offensive language to label a community organisation that is working hard, including throughout the pandemic, to support people," the SDLP MLA said.

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