Hunger-strike rally to go ahead

A major national hunger-strike commemorative rally is set to go ahead on August 13th at Casement Park stadium, owned by the Gaelic Athletics Association, despite the opposition of the GAA’s Dublin-based central council.

The heads of the GAA took the decision to refuse the planned rally as the association’s rules forbid the use of their grounds for political events.

However, local country Antrim officials will not prevent access to the venue to the thousands of people expected to turn out.

Antrim County Board chairman Dr John McSparran acknowledged the central council’s decision but queried how “up to 30,000 people” could be forced away from the rally.

“Within the GAA in Antrim, we are only too well aware that the vast majority of clubs, if asked, would consider this a non-political event and be happy for this event to go ahead in Casement Park,” he said.

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams will be the guest speaker at the rally which also includes a music concert and follows a large march and dramatisation of the hunger strikes.

A spokesperson for event organisers, the National H-Block Armagh Commemoration Committee, said: “This parade is not party political. It does not contravene GAA rules and we expect the parade to go ahead as planned as it did in 2001 in Casement.”

When asked what will happen if the August 13 event goes ahead as planned, a spokesperson for the GAA said: “The central council of the GAA will have to meet to decide what sanctions will be imposed.”

The spokesperson also said that, as far as he was aware: “The first time it was discussed was at a meeting of the central council last Saturday.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News