Members attended in personal capacity, says GAA
CAVAN RALLY:THE GAA has said that well-known members of the association who attended a rally in support of businessman Seán Quinn in Co Cavan at the weekend did so in a personal capacity.
Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, former Meath manager Seán Boylan and former Meath footballer and Sunday Game panellist Colm O’Rourke were among the crowd of thousands who attended the rally in Ballyconnell on Sunday.
Former Armagh player and All-Ireland-winning captain Jarlath Burns addressed the crowd, saying the GAA community wanted justice for the Quinns. Former Armagh manager Joe Kernan called for justice to be done and for Mr Quinn to be allowed to “build another empire”.
A GAA spokesman said the association had “no comment” to make on the matter. He said GAA members in attendance were present in a personal capacity. How members spent their own time was their business, he said.
“The GAA is a sporting and cultural institution and nothing else,” he added.
Mr Quinn’s brother Peter was GAA president from 1991 to 1994.
Fine Gael MEP and former GAA president Seán Kelly yesterday defended the “individual” support shown by the GAA members towards the Quinn family. He said he had been speaking to Peter Quinn at the weekend.
Mr Kelly said the members who attended the rally probably did so as “an expression of moral support” for a family who had always been loyal to the association and committed to it in terms of time and finance.
He said the demonstration in Ballyconnell was not an official protest sanctioned by Croke Park “per se” but rather a show of support “for our own”.
Standing behind those in trouble locally was what the GAA was all about, particularly when the national spotlight was on them, he said. This moral support was about freedom of expression and was separate to the judicial proceedings, he added during an interview on Radio Kerry.
People felt strongly about Anglo Irish Bank, he said, and individuals may think the Quinn family was not getting a fair hearing.
The Quinns had been very supportive of the GAA and on a personal level were decent people who had never lost sight of their roots. It was “part of the ethos” of the GAA to get behind “a decent family” who were living in the community.
“In some respects it’s an expression of the strength of the organisation,” he said. “We’d probably do exactly the same thing down here in Kerry if someone who was very loyal to us was in difficulty.”
One of the great strengths of the GAA was that “we stand by our own”, Mr Kelly said, adding that if people were in the gutter it did not mean the GAA turned their backs on them.