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Jarlath Burns Has A Divisive Proposal To Help GAA Reach Out To Unionists

Jarlath Burns Has A Divisive Proposal To Help GAA Reach Out To Unionists
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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It's a question that's most associated with rugby, but Jarlath Burns has been thinking about the national anthem.

In an interview with journalist and author Eamonn Mallie on Irish TV last night, Burns said he would happily drop 'Amhran na bhFiann' if it could help the sport reach out to northern protestants.

What about the tricolour flying in sight of the pitch? Burns isn't attached to it either. If it could make the sport more palatable to unionists, he wouldn't hesitate to discard all of these symbols.

Yeah, it wouldn't cost me a thought - and you know this - flags are divisive - do we need to say that any louder?

If somebody was to propose in the morning that they were going to get rid of them all, it wouldn't bother me at all. It's not one of the core values that I have.

It's an overtly political thing, it's something which is specific to national borders, it's nothing to do with cultural - if I thought for a moment that suddenly (Ulster Unionist MLA) Tom Elliott would become our greatest fan I would get rid of them surely.

When turning down an invitation to the Fermanagh-Antrim game this summer, Elliott, who had recently unseated Michelle Gildernew as MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone, said he objected to the 'flying of the Irish tricolour and the playing of the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland in Northern Ireland'.


Burns is willing to get rid of the impediments that prevent Elliott from attending the odd Gaelic football match.


Presumably, more problems will arise. Elliott will easily find more things that offend him. Numerous GAA teams will have to change their names, for instance. Not to mention the odd competition.

Remember Joe Brolly's response to Irish Times racing correspondent Brian O'Connor's assertion that Brolly's former club in Derry should have change their name? Brolly's team was named after hunger striker Kevin Lynch.



Despite his willingness to contemplate these measures, Burns reckons that discarding the flags and the anthems 'is not going to happen in the GAA.'

Of course, he might get more support for his proposals if he was to go the whole hog and ban the pre-match parade as well.

Sinn Fein's outspoken councillor in Dublin North-East Micheal MacDonncha said he wouldn't be in favour of removing the tricolour from the GAA grounds - at least in the current context.


Personally, I would see the tricolour as a symbol of reconciliation. That was what it was conceived of... No I wouldn't be in favour, not in the current context.

However, he did admit that in the holy grail of a 'United Ireland', a new solution would have to be thrashed out and compromises would have to be made.

In a United Ireland context, where there's an agreement in terms of unity and a new constitution, obviously everything would have to be looked at, so we would have to be open to consider all kinds of proposals.

Read more: Colm Cooper's Ability To Amaze Is Not Restricted To Just The Football Pitch



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