GAA urged to ‘show solidarity with the oppressed’


Nationalists and republicans are being urged to unite to support the Palestinian cause amid signs that the Irish establishment is seeking to protect Israel from the fallout over recent atrocities.

The calls have been made after a Tyrone GAA football supporter was arrested after he waved a Palestinian flag at a match. It followed the recent massacre of over 100 Palestinian demonstrators, medics and media, and the maiming of thousands more by the Israeli army.

There were also questions about the actions of the Tyrone Gaelic Athletics Association after a prominent Palestinian campaigner was dropped as the county’s social media officer.

John Hurson, known for his work with the ‘Tyrone to Gaza’ group, had managed the official social media feeds during games involving the county for the past seven years.

Last month Mr Hurson, who is an honorary Palestinian citizen, was critical of a decision by a GAA official to order the removal of two Palestinian flags during a match in Omagh. He believes the decision to remove him from his social media role is linked to that incident.

SDLP councillor Malachy Quinn spoke out said he would be raising the matter with GAA county board officials.

“As far as I know there has been no explanation as to why he has been removed,” he said. “I think the county board has questions to answer about what happened to John Hurson.”

Hurson was made aware of the decision by text as he prepared to travel to Navan for Tyrone’s All-Ireland qualifier with Meath on Saturday. In a possibly related development, a disabled Tyrone fan who was holding a Palestinian flag was aggressively arrested by gardai police at the match.

Video footage of the incident (pictured) appears to show the man, who uses crutches, being dragged from the area. Gardai subsequently lied about the issue, claiming they had “received a number of complaints from attendees that their view was obscured by a flag”. Video footage proves the incident took place before the start of the match.

Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey has called for the GAA’s Ulster Council to repeal their ban against the flying of Palestinian flags in the associations’ grounds.

“The GAA was born out of oppression and supporters, the heartbeat of the GAA, should be allowed to show solidarity with oppressed peoples across the world,” he wrote.

In recent weeks, Donegal, Galway and Monaghan County Councils have also backed calls for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador and to implement a policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

The Fine Gael minister or Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has ignored these, During a visit to the Middle East earlier this month, in which he met with Israel’s genocidal prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Coveney said he didn’t think boycotts “will create conditions for change in the short term”.

Sinn Fein South Down MP Chris Hazzard has called for a collective initiative to bring an end to the war against the Palestinian people.

“The failure of the international community to take a stand against the multiple injustices being inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israel is shameful and outrageous,” he said.

“The international community must unite in holding Israel accountable for its actions.”

Sinn Fein has also called on Irish television and the Dublin government to boycott next year’s Eurovision after Israel won the song contest this year, winning the right to stage next year’s event.

A motion at its Ard Fheis [annual conference] this weekend calling on RTE and the Dublin government to boycott the contest next year is expected to pass.

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