SARI calls on Gaelic Athletic Association to ban Confederate flag

Fare member Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) have called on the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to ban the Confederate flag from their grounds after a variation of it appeared in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, at the championship final on Sunday 5 July.

A group of Cork supporters have traditionally brought the Rebel Indian variation of the flag to matches associating the rebels with the county’s own nickname as well as the shared red and white colours.

However, the flag has become increasingly associated with racism in Europe and the United States especially following the racist massacre in a South Carolina church last June, which sparked a big debate in the US over whether or not it is appropriate to wave the Confederate flag, what it stands for and who supports its use.

SARI international and education officer Ken McCue confirmed they had received a report of the flag being flown by a spectator in attendance at the game. He had also been made aware there were Confederate flags on sale from a stall in Cork’s Patrick Street in the middle of last week.

"We’re calling on the Cork County Board to issue a statement asking the fans to desist because it’s a flag of hatred. It sends out the wrong signals. We would call on stewards to be vigilant to make sure it doesn’t appear in grounds.

"We had a local arrangement with guards around Croker. There was a fella from Ballybough selling Confederate flags and they were snatched off him" said McCue.

The GAA Official Guide states the organisation is anti-racist and "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".

"We were made aware that there were Confederate flags sold in Patrick Street last Thursday. I mentioned it to Sean Sherlock (Minister for State/Cork East Labour TD) in Dublin last week.

"Myself and Peadar King, a Kerryman living in Cork, in the past mounted a campaign against the flag and we wrote to the GAA and they wrote back saying it’s a tradition in Cork because they see it as a rebel and they’re the Rebel County.

"You think of it now especially with the shootings and it’s been banned in shops in parts of the United States. What we would be afraid of is if the games get to Croke Park and Sky, for example, are covering them and it’s goes coast to coast in the States.

"It did happen before when we got calls from the United States complaining about a flag seen on the TV. It sends out the wrong message." McCue continued.

NASCAR reject the confederate flag
Following the racially-motivated shooting in South Carolina the International Speedway Corporation decided to discourage the display of the Confederate flag joining corporations, including Amazon, eBay and Wal-Mart, in responding to an ignited firestorm of controversy surrounding the flag.

NASCAR has for years prohibited official displays of the Confederate flag. In 2012, they refused to allow pro golfer Bubba Watson to drive the iconic "General Lee", from the television series "The Dukes of Hazzard", at Phoenix International Raceway, citing the Confederate flag emblazoned on the car’s roof.

The two-time US Masters has recently announced he will be painting over the Confederate flag displayed on the roof of the vehicle, while Dale Earnhardt Jr, a legend in NASCAR called for the emblem banned from the sport, describing it as "offensive to an entire race".

Earlier this month, Ryan Ward, a football coach at East Belfast FC, Belfast, Northern Ireland, pulled down a Confederate flag tied to a lamppost outside the home of a young black player.

Ryan Ward said club members were "disgusted" after the flag appeared outside the home of the 13-year-old.

He added: "It was there for a few days and I hadn’t really noticed it, but I heard then what it was and realised it was outside the wee fella’s house so ones from the club put two and two together and there wasn’t any hesitation from us. We went straight down and got it down, simple as that.

"The wee fella came out and thanked me, but I told him he’d nothing to thank me for. I can’t be 100 per cent sure why it was put there, but I’m sure of the affect it was having. He was nervous about it, it was having an affect on his family and he’s a player I look after so there was no hesitating.

"People at the club have been disgusted at what’s happened here. The 99.9 per cent of people who live around here, they don’t want this but they get tarred with the same brush."

From Irish Examiner and Belfast live

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