Ban racists for life – Tom Carr
Ex-Dublin boss demands zero tolerance from GAA to abuse
FORMER Dublin senior manager and current Westmeath minor boss Tom Carr has called on the GAA to hand out mandatory lifetime bans for any forms of racism within their games.
"Unless the GAA sends out a clear signal that this will not be tolerated, it is not going to change," he said. "They need to take the heaviest possible action now against anyone involved in any racist statements or actions and to me that is to ban them for life.
"There's no point giving out four-week bans or even banning people from entering a ground for a certain period. There has to be zero tolerance. Life bans, it's as simple as that."
The GAA has begun investigating a formal complaint from Westmeath County Board about the alleged racist abuse of one of their players in a recent Leinster MFC game against Meath.
They are particularly upset that it was an underage player that was targeted and have directed the GAA to apply their own child welfare policies to the case.
The Westmeath minor team that Carr managed to the Leinster final last weekend contained three African/Irish teenagers; one of whom was born in Ireland and two whose families immigrated here.
Carr said he was particularly shocked to hear a section of Meath supporters making racist chants when one of them was sent off (a decision that was rescinded on appeal) in Navan recently.
"You can hear it on the match DVD and we (the management) heard it ourselves from behind us in the stands. They were making monkey sounds when one of our players was sent off," he confirmed.
"I've been asked, 'is the GAA a racist association?' and I've always said 'no'," Carr said.
"But (racism) clearly exists in certain situations within it and in our society. The fact that we have to highlight it proves that it does exist.
"When something exists within the GAA, whether it's ill-discipline or whatever, it is usually much worse at club level and I'd imagine that is the case with racism too.
"I've asked our player about that and he told me it goes on all the time at club level.
"There are always a few idiots who will say or do outrageous things, but to hear a crowd joining in with a racist chant and gestures, that was particularly shocking.
"These children have totally immersed themselves in their local communities and culture and really want to play Gaelic games. Hopefully we will see many more immigrants playing our games in future years," Carr added.
Only in the past year, and in response to several inter-county players (including Wexford's Lee Chin) reporting abuse, have the GAA introduced a specific rule about racist or sectarian comments and the big surprise was that 10pc of the delegates at Congress did not support it.
The rule states that "any conduct by deed, word or gesture of sectarian or racist nature or which is contrary to the principles of inclusion and diversity against a player, official, spectator or anyone else, in the course of activities organised by the Association, shall be deemed to have discredited the Association".
The punishment for discrediting the Association is anything from a minimum of eight weeks' suspension to a lifetime ban, but Carr feels it should automatically be the latter.