Parents of children at Ballymoney High School in Antrim have criticised the school for putting students under pressure to play GAA.
The Cuchulainn Initiative offers students from non-GAA backgrounds the opportunity to learn the skills of football and hurling, and has been extended to students at Ballymoney High School. The scheme culminates in the Cuchulainn Cup, in which a number of schools combine to face off against schools from other towns.
Year 11 students at Ballymoney were recently told that they would receive GAA coaching alongside students from two other schools, Dalriada Grammar School and Our Lady of Lourdes School.
The issue, however, is the fact that the coaching is opt-out, rather than opt-in. One parent told The Ballymoney Times that "the boys are being put in a position where they have to single themselves out. Gaelic football is not cross-community. It is not unionist friendly and I am not happy with the way Ballymoney High School has handled the whole thing".
A couple of local politicians voiced their opposition, including PUP councillor Russell Watton. He clarified that he doesn't have a problem with the GAA, but that the Association has a problem within unionist communities.
The GAA has a problem in working-class unionist areas. People living in these estates never had anything to do with the GAA, and the GAA never had anything to do with them. There are cups named after dead IRA men.
What’s some young boy in a band supposed to do? It is not fair that they’re being put in this position. Don’t get me wrong, I am not that daft to think that everyone in the GAA are out-and-out republicans, but GAA is seen in that way by unionists.
In response, the school have withdrawn from the project.
The full story is available on The Ballymoney Times website.