Northern Ireland news

Council rejects proposal to withdraw funding from the GAA following pitch invasion

The pitch invasion by fans following Sunday's Tyrone club final

THE DUP has failed in an attempt to have funding withdrawn from the GAA after fans flouted social distancing guidelines at an historic weekend game.

Mid Ulster District councillor Clement Cuthbertson hit out at a pitch invasion by fans at Omagh's Healy Park on Sunday following Dungannon Clarke's historic victory over Trillick in the Tyrone county senior football final.

The GAA said the scenes "could not be repeated" adding they had breached both GAA protocols and "much more significantly public health guidelines".

However there was also criticism after fans in the street were seen celebrating the team's first title win of the title in 64 years while singing a song that mentioned the IRA.

The Dungannon DUP councillor proposed temporarily withdrawing funding to the GAA in Mid Ulster pending the outcome of a police investigation and until the GAA "condemned and distanced themselves from this disgusting behaviour".

Mr Cuthbertson also said he also expected "every councillor in this room to outright condemn these actions."

He said "any significance this victory" was lost to the "disgraceful and reckless scenes we witnessed last weekend.".

The DUP representative continued: “If that was not serious enough, there are quite a number of social media videos circulating, clearly showing clips of singing and chanting by groups of men, wearing Dungannon GAA shirts, some waving the trophy aloft and others in licensed premises.

“Unfortunately, the words to the songs are much too vulgar for me to repeat in public. They are misogynistic, derogatory, offensive, sectarian and pro-IRA.

“I will be expecting both Ulster GAA and Dungannon GAA to come out to condemn and distance themselves from this disgusting behaviour.

“I also expect every councillor in this room to outright condemn these actions.”

His proposal was seconded by DUP group leader councillor Paul McLean.

Ulster Unionist party leader councillor Walter Cuddy congratulated the team on their success and said he fully understood what it meant to the club’s fans but said their behaviour needed to be called out.

“With regards to the pitch invasion it is okay for subs and backroom staff to be doing that but it is wrong for fans to do it,” he said.

“We all have to call it out, where has everybody been for the last six months? Things are getting very serious again and I hope this has not caused further problems.

“Nevertheless, the pitch invasion is an internal GAA issue and I am waiting to see how they will deal with it.”

However Sinn Féin Cookstown councillor John McNamee congratulated the team and said that emotions had been running high among fans witnessing the team win their first Tyrone senior football title in more than 60 years.

“...when you hear on RTÉ Pat Spillane saying the best club football in Ireland is now in Tyrone and knowing the local connections to the club it is perhaps easy to see how it would be such an emotional time,” he said.

Council chairman, Sinn Féin councillor Cathal Mallaghan, described the proposal to withhold funding as "taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

“I stand by my remarks in terms of responsibility. Everyone is responsible and we are seeing these responsibilities being broken right across society.

“Whether it is a golf gathering in the south or Sammy Wilson travelling on the tube without wearing a mask, there is no point trying to spoil the broth we have to take responsibility for our own actions."

The proposal was defeated by 23 to 14.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news