Saturday 25 March 2017

MP described GAA as 'malignant organisation'

A banner supporting
the hunger strikers is
displayed in Croke Park,
Dublin, before the Kerry
v Offaly All-Ireland
football final in 1981
A banner supporting the hunger strikers is displayed in Croke Park, Dublin, before the Kerry v Offaly All-Ireland football final in 1981

THE GAA was described as a "malignant sporting organisation" by Unionist MP Harold McCusker in a letter defending the requisitioning by the British army of land owned by Crossmaglen GAA Club.

Files from 1981 show that the government expressed concerns to the British about the decision to compulsorily acquire part of the grounds in 1974 and build a helicopter pad on it.

According to a briefing note drawn up in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Minister Brian Lenihan regularly expressed his "anxiety" about the takeover of the grounds to the British government in 1980.

The files show that some British politicians also expressed concern. In November 1980, Conservative MP Jill Knight wrote to Mr McCusker, the MP for Armagh, requesting information on the Crossmaglen situation.

"The GAA is a most malignant 'sporting organisation'," he wrote in reply. "It bans from membership anyone who is a member of the RUC. . . and other members of HM Forces, although it is happy to take assistance from British taxpayers.

"I do not need to tell you about the situation in Crossmaglen. Probably more soldiers and police have been killed there than in any other part of the province."

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News