Friday 15 December 2017

GAA could drop anthem and flag 'when time right'

Predicts change: Mickey Harte. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Predicts change: Mickey Harte. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Jill Goligher

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has said the GAA could put a stop to playing the national anthem and the flying of the Irish tricolour at matches when "the time is right".

The All-Ireland winning manager was speaking in an interview on the BBC Radio Ulster Show 'Talkback'.

Harte was asked to respond to a recent interview with Aogán Ó Fearghaíl, in which the GAA president talked about potential changes in the use of Irish national symbols in the sport.

Yesterday, Harte said the GAA had changed before - the sport's ruling body now allows members of the security forces in Northern Ireland to participate, and has built bridges with other sports over the use of facilities.

He said that over the years the GAA had made changes and would continue to do so as long as it was in the interest of the "greater good" of the sport.

"Time moves on," he said. "There was a time when you weren't allowed to play - in inverted commas - foreign games.

"Croke Park was not open to other sports and the police force in this part of the world could not take part.

"Things will change when the time is right.

"People will know it is the right thing to do and if they don't, if it is not the thing to do for the greater good, then it won't happen.

"Sport brings people together.

"Everyone comes together and shares our difficulties, people who enthuse about sport come together and appreciate each other in every way.

"Gaelic has gained a more professional approach, more structured and detailed.

"In terms of the cultural role it plays, let time take care of it."

The Tyrone manager also said the sport had the ability to be globally popular with the potential of a World Cup-style tournament or possibly featuring in the Olympics at some point.

Read more: Joe Brolly: Get rid of the tricolour, the anthem and Sam Maguire? Political correctness won't cut it for GAA people

He said that the game would develop across the world once its potential was realised and other countries got involved.

'TalkBack' host William Crawley also asked if he would explain the scoring in the game.

"If you just remember it's three points for a goal," Harte responded.

Harte said it was not up to him how long he would stay at the helm with Tyrone, but that it was his desire to continue on for "another few years".

In the wide-ranging radio interview with Mr Crawley he also talked about the loss of his daughter Michaela, who was killed while on honeymoon in Mauritius six years ago this month.

"I've been blessed that I have the grace of God with me to deal with it," he said.

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