Staying out of Politics: A GAA Myth
Well into your fourth decade and still having unquestioned or absolute heroes is something some would look on with pity no doubt.
When sport is an important part of your life, your sporting respect is something very precious to be allocated with care.
The picture of Brian Cody is still in my living room. The copy I have of Mickey Harte's book Kicking Down Heaven's Door is still very important to me. Sadly the comfort I used to get from giving both men’s utterances near mystical import is gone.
Reflecting on high profile GAA figures of my own age or older I always have that echoing question as to why they didn’t use their profile to speak out against the harassment, assault and murder of members of the Association in the six counties.
The stock answer was a wish to stay out of politics. A cop out. Brian Cody was part of a media campaign for a YES vote to the recent Austerity Referendum in the 26-counties. Cody’s participation was not in a personal capacity it was as Kikenny manager. Among the organisations affiliated to the group Cody lent his name to were the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce and the Irish Bankers Federation. Mickey Harte attended a protest in support of Sean Quinn in recent weeks. He stood shoulder to shoulder with other high profile GAA personalities at the rally.
Cody and Harte obviously have no objection to bringing their GAA membership into the political domain. The causes they saw fit to champion are disappointing. Brian Cody is a school principal; he sees first hand the social devastation the cutbacks are causing.
Last year I was talking to a Belfast Republican on this issue. 'I still do the glass walk at our club' he informed me. ‘Explain’ I asked in my innocence. 'It is very regular glass is strewn on or embedded into the pitch by loyalists, my job is to remove on detection' was his answer.
Some would tell you that Unionism/Loyalism is making efforts to “accept” the GAA; the behaviour outlined above is that of drug fuelled knuckle draggers they would have you believe.
The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and present MLA Tom Elliot claimed at an official UUP meeting in Tyrone in August 2012, that Sean Brown of Bellaghy was “not a real victim” of the conflict. Sean Brown, 61, was abducted by an LVF gang as he locked the gate of the Wolfe Tones GAA club in Bellaghy in May 1997. Mr Brown was tortured and murdered, his body being found in Randalstown. In the days following the murder graffiti was daubed on walls in the Mid-Ulster area mocking the murder victim. Tom Elliot’s comments were nothing less than an extension of the warped hatred of the LVF gang which murdered the Wolfe Tones clubman. When you consider that the UUP are sold as the soft underbelly of the unionist community, it shows what a truly perverse political ideology unionism is.
Brian Cody knows very well the trials and tribulations that GAA members experienced in the last four decades in Derry and elsewhere through among other things his association with Dungiven hurling. A graphic example of what being a Gael in Antrim for example entailed in the 90s is carried in Terence Mc Naughtons autobiography. He describes players running from the dressing rooms in Casement Park to their cars in fear of assassination by loyalist death squads. Cody often speaks of the importance of players being genuine and manly.
If Brian was to comment on the demeaning of Sean Browne killing or had commented on the relentless harassment of GAA members instead of doing the bidding of German business interests, and Irish bankers, many would take his expressed ethos more seriously.