Dublin GAA club distances itself from anti-abortion event

Ballyfermot De La Salle ‘in no way associated’ with event

Joe Sheridan, Patrick Gallagher, Aoife Cassidy, AnneMarie McDonagh and Micky Harte at the GAA Athletes for a No Vote event on Saturday. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

A Dublin GAA club has distanced itself from an event featuring prominent GAA personalities urging a No vote in the upcoming abortion referendum.

Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte and other GAA players attended the event in Ballyfermot Sports and Fitness Centre on Saturday.

Meath's Joe Sheridan, Antrim's Patrick Gallagher, Derry's Aoife Cassidy, and Galway's AnneMarie McDonagh also attended the GAA Athletes for a No Vote campaign launch.

It was organised by the anti-abortion Save the Eighth campaign. The group, and the GAA personalities, are urging people to vote against removing the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution in the upcoming referendum on May 25th. The Amendment effectively bans abortion in most circumstances in Ireland.

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In a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday, Ballyfermot De La Salle GAA club disassociated itself from the event. It said it was “aware that a launch is taking place in Ballyfermot today by a group of high-profile GAA members who are campaigning in relation to the forthcoming referendum on the eighth amendment to the constitution.

“The club understands that as part of the launch, the high-profile GAA personalities involved are to hold a football / hurling skills coaching session for local children.

“As the local GAA club in the community where this launch is to take place and in response to queries raised by our own members, the club wishes to make the following clear:

“The club is in no way associated with today’s launch. It received no communication in advance from anyone involved with the launch and, in fact, the Club only became aware of the launch from press reports this morning.

“It would be wholly inappropriate for the club to be associated with the launch as the GAA and its clubs do not become involved in political matters.

“No GAA and/or club facilities are being used for today’s launch.

“A decision on whether or not to participate in the football / hurling skills coaching session this is being held as part of the launch is a personal matter for each parent/guardian to decide for their own child.

“Ballyfermot De La Salle GAA club felt it was important to clarify the above matters. As the club has no involvement whatsoever with today’s launch, it will not be making any further comment.”

In a statement issued before Saturday’s event, the Save the Eighth group cited the GAA’s Strategic Plan which, it said, “assures us that ‘we actively seek to engage with and include all members of our society’.”

“The GAA’s vision is ‘that everyone be welcome to participate fully in our games and culture, that they thrive and develop their potential, and be inspired to keep a lifelong engagement with our Association.’”

The group said “many young men and women are wondering how to vote. The GAA insists that there is a place for everybody in our Association, regardless of ability, or disability, regardless of background, regardless of race.

We are an inclusive organisation. There is a space for everybody at our table.”

Patrick  Logue

Patrick Logue

Patrick Logue is Digital Editor of The Irish Times