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GAA distances itself

(Irish News)

The GAA has distanced itself from a jersey to commemorate the Hunger Strikers.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and several Antrim county GAA players yesterday (Friday) unveiled a jersey to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the hunger strike.

But a GAA spokesman distanced the organisation from the jersey, saying that "as an association, we remain apolitical."

Mr Adams was joined by Brian McFall, Jane Adams, Paddy Murray and Antrim senior manager Mickey Culbert at the jersey's launch in Belfast.

"A number of the men who died in the Hunger Strike were GAA members and keen players," he said.

"One such was Joe McDonnell whose anniversary falls tomorrow.

"It is appropriate therefore that O'Neills should bring out this special commemorative jersey as a tribute to them in this 25th anniversary year."

Mr Adams said the jersey was "a unique way for people to remember the events of 1981".

It was also a way of demonstrating "the pride and admiration which we as republicans have for the hunger strikers and their families", he said.

However, GAA spokesman Fergal Magill said the association "had no plans to commemorate the hunger strikes".

The shirt was not an official GAA jersey but a "GAA-style jersey", he said.

"The only official GAA jerseys are those of clubs and counties," Mr Magill said.

"As individuals, the Antrim players are free to follow whatever political party they want but as an association we remain apolitical."

The GAA's rules state that it "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," states rule seven.

A number of GAA clubs are named after Hunger Strikers.

July 9, 2006

This article appeared first in the July 8, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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