GAA defends decision not to allow referee to wear gay symbol

Association says it must not be a ‘vehicle for other people’s political messages’

The GAA has said it cannot allow its games to be used for political purposes after refusing to allow a referee wear a rainbow armband.

A spokesman said the decision not to allow the referee wear the symbol associated with the gay community before the referendum on marriage equality was an attempt to be consistent about apoliticising its games.

David Gough (31) was prevented from wearing the rainbow armband at the Tyrone vs Dublin game at Croke Park which he refereed on Saturday night in front of 30,000 spectators. The match was broadcast live on Setanta Sports.

Mr Gough told the Marian Finucane Show this morning that the GAA was "completely supportive of his stance" on Friday, but support for his gesture diminished on Friday evening.


On Saturday morning at 7.30am, he was told there was “no circumstances” in which he could wear the wristband.

Mr Gough said his stance was made in support of the marriage equality referendum in May and also to highlight homophobia in sport.

He said he understood the GAA's position but it was a "very small gesture" and there had been "no fall out between myself and the powers in the GAA over it". Mr Gough will preside over the Down v Galway match in Newry today.

The GAA spokesman said the association had refused to take a stance on the children’s referendum “though it might seem to be a good fit for us given our work underage”.

Equally, Palestinian flags had been removed by stewards from Hill 16 last year.

“We are a broad church with lots of different views. For that reason we take an apolitical stance,” the GAA spokesman said. “The GAA is not a vehicle for other people’s political messages. You leave your politics at the door. It is enshrined in our official guide.

“If we had proceeded, there would have been a constituency out there asking why we were allowing this to happen. You are never going to please everybody in this situation.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times