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DUP slams GAA club IRA commemoration

(Maeve Connolly, Irish News)

The DUP has hit out at a Co Tyrone GAA club's decision to commemorate three IRA men killed in 1988. Derek Reaney, DUP candidate for west Tyrone, said the club's involvement called into question the organisation's claim to be "non sectarian and non political".

St Teresa's GAA club in Loughmac- rory has held an annual commemoration for the IRA men shot in an SAS ambush and last month celebrated the 15th anniversary of their death.

It also holds a football tournament in memory of two of those killed who were members of the Co Tyrone club and this year's competition was for under-twelves.

Brothers Gerard and Martin Harte and 26-year-old Brian Mullin were shot dead in an SAS ambush on Aug-ust 30 1988 in Cloughfin, Drumnakilly.

Gerard Harte (29) was a prominent member of St Teresa's GAA club in Loughmacrory and has been descri- bed as the commander of mid-Tyrone IRA. His 23-year-old brother Martin also belonged to the club.

The third man killed, Brian Mullin, was a brother-in-law of Martin Harte.

A soldier posing as a UDR man pretended to fix a tyre on a lorry while others lay in wait in the surrounding area on August 30. As the IRA men approached, shots were fired and they were killed. However, a 1993 inquest failed to establish who had opened fire first.

Their deaths have been commemorated annually and in last month's memorial a crowd of people walked from Loughmacrory village to the graveyard where the men are buried.

Former Sinn Féin assembly member for West Tyrone Barry McElduff said yesterday (Thursday) he had addressed the crowd at the graves.

However, the DUP's Mr Reaney has called on the GAA to clarify its position in relation to celebrating members of the IRA.

Mr Reaney said the Policing Board and Northern Ireland Office also needed to "address this issue".

"Recent legislation has been introduced which forces PSNI officers to declare their membership of a number of named organisations and yet the legislation excludes the GAA.

"While I am opposed to the introduction of this legislation as I believe it infringes on an individual's rights I feel that, in the interest of equality, that membership of the GAA should also be declared."

The GAA have rules covering party political alliances and sectarianism in the association.

Rule Eight states: "The association shall be non-party political. Party political questions shall not be discussed at its meetings and no committee, club, council or representative thereof shall take part as such in any party political movement. A pen- alty of up to six months suspension may be imposed for infringement."

While Rule Nine states: "The association shall be non-sectarian."

September 27, 2003

This article appeared first in the September 12, 2003 edition of the Irish News.

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