Saturday 29 April 2017

GAA greats uneasy as chief hints at flag change

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl has hinted at change in the future – but greats including Graham Geraghty do not agree. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl has hinted at change in the future – but greats including Graham Geraghty do not agree. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Ryan Nugent

A number of high-profile GAA greats have dismissed comments from the association's President that the national anthem and flag could be dropped in the event of political realignment on the island.

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl said that while both the flag and anthem were currently important to the GAA, "who knows in the future?"

Meath GAA legend, Graham Geraghty said he 'definitely wouldn’t agree' with Mr Ó Fearghaíl’s comments and described them as 'premature'. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Meath GAA legend, Graham Geraghty said he 'definitely wouldn’t agree' with Mr Ó Fearghaíl’s comments and described them as 'premature'. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

He said that if there were new agreements and arrangements, the GAA would be open-minded on issues such as the flag and anthem.

Meath GAA legend, Graham Geraghty said he "definitely wouldn't agree" with Mr Ó Fearghaíl's comments and described them as "premature".

"I suppose he's probably trying to be diplomatic in some way, but I definitely wouldn't like to see it go away and I don't think it'll happen. It's probably something he has to say they'll have a look at," Geraghty said.

"I definitely wouldn't agree with his comments anyway, but that's the beauty of where we live - you have the right to your opinion whether it's right or not. As head of the GAA, I don't know whether that's his own opinion or the opinion of the Congress.

"He's answerable to the people as well, so I think his comments are premature really."

Former diaspora minister Jimmy Deenihan, a star for Kerry in the 1970s, said the anthem would always be intrinsic to GAA traditions.

Read more: GAA must reconsider stance on national anthem and flag in event of political realignment in Ireland - Aogán Ó Fearghail

He said: "I think it's going to stay and will stay in our lifetime. If there was a united Ireland and we all aspire to that then maybe there might be a new anthem, but the national anthem will remain as long as the GAA.

"It's very much part of the GAA because it was really the Gaelic League and the GAA - two major movements that led a cultural revolution, which became a political revolution in 1916, so it's very much part of our nationalism, our flag and our national anthem.

"It's intrinsic to the nationalism of Ireland."

Meanwhile, former Dublin captain Paddy Christie commended the GAA for its open-minded approach and said there was plenty of willingness for change in the organisation. He wouldn't be against such change if it was inclusive to more cultures. "I know it sounds anti-nationalist and unpatriotic, but the world moves on," Christie said.

"I was very proud as a player - the hairs would stand on the back of your neck with the national anthem, but at the end of the day, things change."

Irish Independent

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