Ó hAilpín wants GAA to appoint officers to deal with racial abuse incidents

Former Cork hurling star expects reporting of racial abuse incidents will rise


Seán Óg Ó hAilpín has suggested GAA county boards should look at appointing a designated officer to deal with instances of racial abuse amid expectations that reporting of such incidents is likely to increase.

Ó hAilpín said he welcomed a motion coming before this year’s GAA Annual Congress in Derry confirming the association is inclusive and condemning any racist or sectarian abuse as bringing the association into disrepute.

“I welcome the motion, Thanks be to God, the GAA authorities seem to be taking the issue seriously now because it hasn’t been taken seriously up until now – I think there are too many high-profile cases coming forward for their liking to be brushed under the carpet.”

Ó hAilpín said he expects the motion to be passed at Congress but paradoxically, expects the reporting of incidents of racial abuse to increase as players will now feel something meaningful can and will be done.

“I’d be confident it will be passed because in ways it’s a human rights issue and if you vote against that, you’re voting against somebody’s human rights – if a fellow goes on the pitch, regardless of where they’re from, they’re entitled to play the game without being abused.

“I don’t know if there are any sanctions proposed but hopefully there will be – it keeps cropping up because there are no penalties . . . mark my words, there would have been a lot more cases but fellows didn’t feel confident about making a complaint.

“The feeling I get is that fellows felt ‘What’s the point, there’s nothing going to be done’ – the association will leave them down and it’s hard to argue with that view because there was no rule book on it, it just wasn’t there but hopefully, it will there after Congress.”

Ó hAilpín suggested county boards should look at appointing a designated officer to deal with reports of racial abuse as well as providing a contact point for young players from the new ethnic communities resident in Ireland.

Ó hAilpín was speaking at an event organised by NASC, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre in Cork to mark International Day Against Racism which takes place today.