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Monday 22 September 2014

GAA condemns former player's 'punch a Jew' tweet

Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30

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Tommy McGuigan in action for Tyrone in 2009. Photo: Sportsfile
Tommy McGuigan in action for Tyrone in 2009. Photo: Sportsfile

THE GAA last night publicly distanced itself from an 
anti-semitic tweet by a former inter-country football star after calls to do so from the leader of the jewish community in Ireland.

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Former Tyrone GAA player Tommy McGuigan is potentially facing criminal charges after he sent a Tweet urging people to "punch a Jew".

McGuigan subsequently apologised for the Tweet, but the PSNI has confirmed it is investigating the comment as a potential hate crime.

The All-Ireland winner had tweeted: "If you are lucky enough to know or work with a Jew, punch him right on the nose tomorrow."

He has since deleted the Tweet, claiming it was written as a joke and was meant as "nothing serious".

However, in an interview with the Sunday Independent, the chairman of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, Maurice Cohen, urged the GAA to officially distance itself from McGuigan's remarks.

Mr Cohen said: "We understand that their Official Guide spells out that the GAA is anti-sectarian and 
anti-racist. However I also know that the offending tweet 
has travelled the world. Their Official Guide may not be known to the vast majority of people."

"It appears that the perpetrator of the remarks gave a half-hearted and qualified apology endeavouring to justify his incitement to hatred and incitement to violence. Furthermore the half-hearted apology seems to be centred around giving offense rather than an understanding that he was inciting violence and hatred against an ethnic religious group."

After a meeting of the GAA's Coiste Bainistí, the association issued a statement to the Sunday Independent saying it "totally disassociates itself from recent offensive and anti-Semitic comments made in a personal capacity by a former county player through social media".

The statement added: "The Association is anti-racist and anti-sectarian and abhors and condemns these comments in the strongest terms possible."

See eoghan 
harris page 21 and Gerry Gregg
Page 32

Mr Cohen earlier said the Jewish community in Ireland had noticed there has been a "small rise" in anti-semitism here since the outbreak of the latest conflict in Gaza, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis,

"Nothing has manifested itself physically, but there has
been a rise online and there have been a few emails 
and letters to our office," he added.

There has been a surge in pro-Palestinian support throughout Ireland since the outbreak of the latest conflict in Gaza last month.

Thousands of people took part in a demonstration in Dublin on Friday, where former rugby player Trevor Horgan urged the Irish Government to push for EU sanctions against Israel.

However, Mr Cohen said the boycott is a pointless exercise.

"If some Irish people believe that by boycotting a few Israeli carrots they are doing good for humanity, or more importantly helping the people of Gaza, then so be it. I don't believe that boycotts work and in fact the Palestinians themselves don't want boycotts, so I'm not sure what people think they are going to gain by boycotting."

And he warned: "Ireland imports just over €100m worth of goods from Israel, but Israel imports from Ireland nearly €1bn worth of goods.

"So if the Israelis decided, just on an economic level to boycott Irish goods, it would be a lot worse for Ireland than it would be for Israel."

Mr Cohen said the Jewish community in Ireland deeply regretted the bloodshed in Gaza. And he said there could be no "military solution" to the crisis.

He added: "We know that from the management of our own conflict here on this 
island, that there is no military or security solution to what is in essence a political problem. What we really need to focus now on are the structures of a process that can create trust between the parties so they can move forward to the creation of a two-state solution."

Sunday Independent

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