Duffy dismisses 10pc against on anti-racism rule as 'voting no for the sake of it'
A TOTAL of 10pc of delegates to the GAA Congress in Derry on Saturday voted against an anti-racism motion despite a zero tolerance pledge by president Liam O'Neill.
He promised to implement strong sanctions against anybody who breaks the code but 10pc of Congress delegates still opposed a motion underpinning the Association's commitment to cultural diversity.
O'Neill's address to Congress noted that a small number of racial abuse cases had been reported in the past year, which he described as a source of great regret.
"We will not tolerate racial abuse. Our rules must reflect that. Offenders will be punished and their clubs will be forced to educate their members to respect people from every background. If our rules are found wanting, we will strengthen them. We must be inclusive and welcoming," he said.
A motion outlining the GAA's commitment to inclusivity and diversity and promising stern action under the "discrediting the Association" rule was later passed on a 90-10 percentage majority.
The surprising aspect was that 10pc (about 30 delegates) voted against the proposal when 100pc would have been expected.
However, director general Paraic Duffy dismissed it as an example of how there is always some opposition to every proposal, irrespective of its merits.
"Some people will vote 'no' for the sake of voting 'no'. That's always the way," he said.
However, it was surprising that as many as 10pc voted against the racism/sectarianism proposal, especially since some motions on minor technical rules issues had won support by as much as 99pc.
In his address, O'Neill also reiterated his abhorrence for abusing/taunting or spitting at an opponent.
"Spitting at another person is never acceptable. If a player does it, he deserves a severe punishment. Taunting of players ('sledging') is not acceptable either. Coaches and mentors have the first opportunity to cut it out," he said.
"If they fail, the committee in charge has a duty to take action, whether at club or county level. The last resort should be a sanction in our rules. But if our present sanctions are found to be inadequate, we can, and we will amend our rules."