Abortion meeting cancelled because GAA 'has to stay neutral' - club boss

Parnell GAA club house Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins

Luke Byrne

A Dublin GAA club cancelled a clubhouse booking to host a meeting on the eighth amendment because the sports organisation has to remain "neutral", according to its chairman.

But organisers have claimed that Parnell's GAA club in Coolock were advised of the topic of the meeting nearly one month in advance.

The club informed the People Before Profit (PBP) party it could not use the space on Thursday, less than five hours before the meeting was due to begin.

Chairman of the club ,Brendan O Connalain, said the decision was made because the GAA could not be seen to promote either side in a possible abortion referendum.


But John Lyons, a councillor who represents PBP in the constituency, said the club was told exactly what the meeting was about three-and-a-half weeks ago.

"I was on annual leave at the time, so it was a colleague of mine who made the booking," he said.

"It was made clear to the club what the meeting was about, 100pc. We have booked it over the last number of years a number of times.

"My general election campaign was launched there," he told the Herald.

"My colleague very clearly said to them it was repeal the eight amendment meeting."

Mr Lyons said the party had spent around €80 on printing posters advertising the meeting and the cost of booking the room was €100.

However, he said the booking fee was due to be handed over after the meeting had finished.

It had been scheduled to begin at around 8pm on Wednesday, but a call was made to Mr Lyons's colleague after 3pm informing him that the booking was cancelled

"I tried to ring back to find out what was going, but I got no answer," Mr Lyons said.

In his statement from the club, Mr O Connalain stressed that the organisation needed to stay neutral.

"The GAA cannot get involved or promote either side of a possible referendum on repealing the eighth and for that reason the meeting was cancelled. The GAA is an apolitical association and as such should stay neutral on these issues," he said.

Cllr Lyons said the venue has previously been used for campaigns, such as the marriage equality referendum.

"We've never had an issue up until now," he said.

It has been suggested the meeting was cancelled on foot of complaints and Mr Lyons said he was going to write to the club formally, for a further explanation.

The meeting went ahead outdoors in Coolock. A request for further comment from Parnell's went unreturned.