Two Kerry anglers, who were part of an Irish team that beat England to win the Home Nations Cup in Weymouth in July, have been suspended for ‘overzealous’ use of the Irish tricolour and promoting Amhrán Na bhFiann.
Tralee brothers David and Chris O’Sullivan are members of the Tralee Bay Sea Angling Club, and were part of a successful Irish team that included seven anglers that won the shore-fishing section.
However, in correspondence seen by The Kerryman, the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers (IFSA) has suspended Chris and David, along with four other team members, following a specially convened meeting of its Central Council in early August.
The Council said it received ‘numerous’ complaints from the Men’s Home Nations Shore Team in relation to the Home Nations Shore Championships.
The IFSA stated that suspensions were for posting ‘multiple’ pictures on Munster Provincial Council IFSA pages between June 27 and July 7 that promoted the Irish tricolour after being advised by team managers not to promote it, or the national anthem, Amhrán Na bhFiann.
The anglers were accused of being ‘overzealous’ in their use of tricolours on Facebook, and on team clothing. The team’s t-shirts had the IFSA’s logo on the front, but a tricolour on the back.
The anglers were suspended under IFSA bye-laws, adopted under article 7 of the IFSA Articles of Association, August 2001.
The IFSA believe censure is necessary as the ‘spread of disaffection’ within the IFSA, and among individual clubs and members, is something it wants to avoid.
The anglers were given 21 days from the date of the letter to challenge the decision and outline any comments relative to the allegations. The anglers have until August 28 in which to appeal.
The IFSA is an all-island organisation that consists of anglers from both sides of the political and religious divide in Northern Ireland.
Promoting the Irish tricolour is considered to be at odds with anglers of British identity in the organisation.
Some anglers in the north formed their own angling federation - Northern Ireland Federation of Sea Anglers (NIFSA) and want to represent Northern Ireland as a country on its own.
An indication of the divide can be seen in the federations’ respective Facebook pages.
The NIFSA page states it ‘brings together all the sea angling people of Northern Ireland’, whereas the IFSA’s status claims it is about ‘representing the Sea Angling Community of the Island of Ireland.
The preference from world governing angling bodies is for ‘single country’ representation at international competitions.
It’s believed any official separation between angling federations on the island of Ireland may result in a reduction in funding.
Being part of an Irish team to beat England was considered a huge achievement for Chris and David at the time. However, this accolade has now been tainted because of the suspension.
Many anglers in Kerry took to social media to express their anger at the IFSA decision.
They feel it is unfair to suspend anglers for simply taking pride in representing their country in competitions – the cost of which is self-funded by the anglers.
Neither Chris nor David could be contacted for comment. The IFSA has also been contacted but has so far not replied.