Loyalist campaign against GAA continues

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The erection by loyalists of a banner in Dungannon referring to the GAA (Gaelic Athletics Association) as the “sporting wing of the IRA” has been condemned by Sinn Fein.

The banner features the image of a rifle, the GAA logo and the threatening “not welcome in this area”. It was found fixed to a fence on a link road in the town on Saturday, August 22.

It is the latest in a series of incidents targeting the GAA in the Six Counties in recent months. Sinn Fein MP for the area, Michelle Gildernew, condemned the banner and those behind it.

“Over the course of recent months we have unfortunately witnessed an intensification of the campaign against the GAA from some sections of loyalism,” she said.

“The erection of this threatening and sectarian banner in Dungannon is the latest of a series of reprehensible attacks on the sport.

“The GAA is inclusive and open, it welcomes all sections of society to participate in its games. Within Tyrone the GAA is the bedrock of many communities.

“In particular Thomas Clarke GAC and Eoghan Ruadh Hurling Club are deeply embedded in the local community of Dungannon.

“Efforts to intimidate the GAA in Dungannon, Tyrone and across the north will fail. I am calling on leaders within the Unionist and Loyalist community to make immediate efforts to end this futile campaign.”

Back in June, a banner reading “anti-British GAA not welcome” was erected at the entrance to Grove Playing Fields in north Belfast, with graffiti displaying the same message sprayed on a wall within the grounds of the playing fields.

Two weeks ago, the newly-established and cross-community East Belfast GAA club was targeted via a series of bomb alerts at the Henry Jones Playing Fields in the city, where they had been training.

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