‘The perpetrators of these incidents are not above the law’ – GAA President condemns club violence

GAA PRESIDENT JOHN Horan has condemned the violence which has engulfed club games around the country in recent weeks.

In his address carried in the October edition of the GAA Club Newsletter, Horan said the disciplinary flash points “have no place in our games” and must end. 

“This time of year is synonymous with a hectic programme of club championship activity and where another pulsating season of county club action draws to a close,” he said.

“For all the triumph and glory that we have witnessed, our attention, regrettably, has been drawn to the reports and imagery of flashpoints of indiscipline that have flared up in a small number of games around the country.

Although these brawls and acts of indiscipline have been few – let us be clear, they have still been a few too many and have no place in our Games.

“We cannot allow people to believe that they can behave differently than they would on the street just because they are wearing a jersey or a team tracksuit top or are attending a game.

“An act of violence is an act of violence regardless of where it takes place. The perpetrators of these incidents are not above the law.

“All of us involved in playing, supporting and administrating our games have a duty of care to protect the reputation of the games that we are involved in. Indiscipline compromises that reputation.

“Players need to show restraint. Referees need to be respected and allowed to do their job and officials need to follow the rules that are in place for dealing with issues that arise. Supporters need to also behave responsibly.

“Players need to show restraint. Referees need to be respected and allowed to do their job,” said Horan.

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“We should be cognisant at all of our games that players, managers and parents are role models for children in the GAA, and we must all live up to the principles of the Give Respect – Get Respect initiative.

“Where action needs to be taken, action should be taken. Punishments and suspensions need to be meaningful and should have an impact.

“For the purpose of clarity, incidents that arise at local level are a matter for the organising committee in charge within that county to deal with. But there is still a collective responsibility on us all to take appropriate action where necessary and show leadership when it is required.

“Some of the images that we have seen have been disturbing and the indiscipline has been dangerous.

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“A lot of work has taken place at inter-county level to improve discipline – but clearly there is work that needs to be done at club level.

The issue of crowded sidelines needs to be taken into account as a contributory factor in some of these incidents.

“If it is decided that our rules and procedures are not adequate in clamping down on bad behaviour or, if there are obstacles to the pursuit of investigations, then we will address it.

“These issues are small when set against the backdrop of the thousands of games that are played nationwide in the proper manner and spirit. But while small in number their negative impact is significant and we simply cannot tolerate that behaviour.

“We have a collective responsibility to send out a signal as to the type of games we want.

“We have seen examples of commendable sporting behaviour at club level such as the juveniles of Rathoath offering a game to Magheracloone because of the sinkhole that has destroyed their pitch.

“Last week we saw the sportsmanship of the beaten Gort na Mona players and officials lining up and applauding off the victorious St Enda’s team after they won the Antrim intermediate football final.

“Our vibrant clubs proudly represent the communities which they serve and these noteworthy examples are not the exception.

“They are sadly however, dwarfed by the negative publicity which follows outbreaks of violence.

“It is not reflective of the Association which we know we have and that is why we should not and will not tolerate its existence.”

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