The GAA has been condemned after it published advertising for the Crown Forces in a match programme for the All-Ireland hurling final at Croke Park in Dublin last weekend.
The PSNI (formerly RUC) was advertising for recruits as part of an effort to boost nationalist support for the British force in the north of Ireland. The new recruitment campaign comes as the force faces increased hostility over harassment and abuse directed against the nationalist community.
The full-page advertisement in the glossy official magazine featured uniformed PSNI members posing for the camera with a message in Irish: ‘Déan Slí Bheatha De’ (make a career of it).
It also featured the logo of international consultants Deloitte, who have said they have been hired to tackle what they said was the “ongoing challenge for the PSNI to attract more people from a Catholic community background”.
The GAA’s public association with the Crown Forces at the all-Ireland has clashed sharply with messages coming from the clubs and members themselves.
A County Derry GAA club recently wrote a letter of support for the family of senior GAA official Sean Brown in 1997, murdered by loyalists in collusion with the RUC. Several other clubs across the north offered their support.
Another precursor of the PSNI, the RIC, was involved in the infamous 1920 Bloody Sunday massacre, when 14 civilians were shot dead at Croke Park.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement condemned the GAA board for submitting to what it said was a PR stunt by the PSNI.
“The PSNI is an armed grouping in the pay of the British government and ultimately takes its orders from British intelligence agency MI5,” it said.
“Despite attempts to sanitise the grim reality of this armed grouping, they continually engage in house raids, harassment, child abuse, collusion and the covering up of sectarian murders.
“They are an armed political militia with the primary aim of upholding the foreign occupation of Ireland while projecting the image of being a ‘police force’.”
They noted that the PSNI have engaged in the continual harassment of GAA players and those engaged in hurling in particular. One incident involved the stop and search of Belfast GAA coach who was told told that the hurley stick in his car boot was “an offensive weapon”.
In another case, a young hurler was stopped by the PSNI in Belfast and had his camán and sliotar seized, and again told they were offensive weapons.
“It is very clear that these actions are nothing but a desperate PR stunt to try distance from the old RIC and RUC image, but these hood-winking actions are no more credible than the installing of Drew Harris as head of an garda síochána,” they said.
“The 32 County Sovereignty Movement rejects any attempts by the illegal and criminal British presence in Ireland to normalise its presence. The ‘PSNI’, has been firmly rejected by the nationalist/Republican people who continue to witness their real agenda.
“The GAA board and indeed any individual who joins this armed crown force gang, should keep in mind that they are actively opposing the sovereign right of the Irish people to determine their own future free from illegal and foreign occupation.”