Is It A Parasol Or a Brolly

Sean Mallory slams Joe Brolly over recent remarks made by the pundit about a local GAA club.

There has been much disquiet in the media, local media, the story not making the grade to appear in the British national media, about a previous attack on a British police officer, not an ‘Irish police officer’ on equal par with Garda Síochána as SF would have us believe, which left him facing horrific life changing injuries.

The attack and rightly condemned then and now, was against a Catholic police officer called Peadar Heffron. A man from a Nationalist and GAA background. He was probably one of the first to take the plunge and join the Police Service of Northern Ireland – PSNI, as it changed its name from the Royal Ulster Constabulary, in an attempt to recruit, by appealing to Nationalist Catholics as recommended by the Patton report.

A partisan police force that upheld and enforced Unionist ideology at all times and quite often to the harmful detriment of Nationalists and GAA personnel.

The history of the RUC against Nationalists was one of brutal intimidation, injury and murder. A history that couldn’t be simply erased by the changing of a name and much akin to the much maligned Long Kesh to the Maze.

There's more to history than a name but the British administration naively hoped that such a change would have an affect like that of Windscale to Sellafield and initiate a new beginning in ‘community relations’ in Northern Ireland.

What they failed to comprehend, and they were publicly and vocally backed in this exercise of failure by Nationalist politicians, is that the mistrust and fear Nationalists held for the RUC was deeply ingrained and couldn’t be erased by a guileless name change.

It was against this background and in the context of the false narrative that is politics here that people like Heffron and Ronan Kerr joined the PSNI. Unlike Kerr, Heffron lived to tell the tale.

Heffron’s gripe and pain is not solely reserved for his horrific injuries due to a booby trap bomb under his car, but aimed more acutely at his alleged shunning and unofficial club sanctioned boycotting by his local Antrim GAA club, Kickhams Creggan GAC.

Sanctions allegedly imposed on hearing of his impending recruitment and later, on their lack of a public display of compassion and condemnation to his attack and injuries.

It was and with much input from GAA pundit Joe Brolly, that Heffron’s bitterness and acrimony to his club came to the fore.

Jumped upon by Unionists and such like to politically score points against the GAA the story became very focal in local news outlets with particular vocal condemnation of the club and GAA in general by DUP South Antrim MP Paul Girvan. A person renowned amongst Nationalists for his bigotry.

Unionists aside, for their response is only to be expected, what is more disturbing about Heffron's public outcry, was Brolly's public denunciation of Kickhams Creggan GAC as being cowards and treacherous.

A condemnation in its application that runs contradictory to the Unionist defence of a few bad apples in the barrel when questions are raised over British Security forces behaviour.

Kickhams, originally holding silence as a defence but eventually being compelled to make a statement to defend their stance over Heffron, did so and in it unambiguously condemned his attack and offered condolences to him and his family. But it also hit out at Heffron's allegations strongly supported by Brolly, and as yet unfounded or ever likely to be and so remain mainly hearsay, by categorically denying the club's influence in Heffron's attack with the following;

“dangerous insinuations that members of Kickhams club acquiesced or played an active role in targeting or attempting to murder Peadar Heffron.”

Brolly's response was to describe the statement as “self-serving”. A less vociferous response than his initial condemnation of the club which ran:

A club delegation should ask to go meet him, to apologise and listen. They could absorb this terrible hurt, accept their treachery and cowardice, and take it from there.

Brolly, whether to appease his lack of modesty or assuage his hubris, is never one to stray far from controversy as witnessed by his TV GAA punditry or as a sports columnist. But likewise, a barrister by profession, he is a man to have in your corner when appealing any penalty rulings by the GAA especially since his services tend come free of charge.

Unfortunately Brolly has extended these traits to give him the right to publicly condemn a club as cowards and committing treachery solely because they did not respond in kind to Heffron's plight or do not conform to the politically established line. Even if it is a line espoused by the GAA head office.

By his pretentious and demeaning remarks Brolly has blackened a club – it's history, it's members, the Creggan community, the sheer effort and effort voluntary given too, to maintain and develop the club, but mostly the people of the GAA themselves who lost their lives at the hands of the British security forces.

These people are not cowards Joe nor are they treacherous. These people are the people who turn out in all sorts of inclement weather to devote a great amount of their spare time and effort to the maintenance of the club's facilities at no scant cost to themselves, who give up their family time to coach and train kids on a Sunday morning with no financial benefit to themselves, who walk the roads and laneways knocking on doors for fund-raising events, travel the length and breadth of the land to support the GAA in all its forms. These are the people who will hurt for the GAA and they have. 

They are not non-conformists but nor should they be expected to conform when their action is appraised in its proper context.

They owe Heffron no apology for they, the club has done nothing wrong. They are neither cowards nor are they treacherous.

These people Joe, are the people who made it possible for you to go out and win an all-Ireland medal. They are your people Joe and you have displayed great disrespect to them out of context with your remarks. You Joe Brolly owe them a profound apology or the coward be you.

Sean Mallory is a Tyrone republican and TPQ columnist

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

2 comments to ''Is It A Parasol Or a Brolly"

  1. Very well said Mr Mallory.
    Brolly has surely lost the run of himself on this.

    Are some of the political parties courting and encouraging him to take a run at the Presidency?

  2. Excellent article. Brolly's program was one dimensional and not very constructive.


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