Axe IRA-GAA cup, says son of murder victim

A flyer for the McGirr/Campbell cup, two IRA men killed by the SAS in 1983. Take from Coalisland Fianna Facebook.
A flyer for the McGirr/Campbell cup, two IRA men killed by the SAS in 1983. Take from Coalisland Fianna Facebook.
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A man whose father was killed by the IRA has called on the GAA to cancel a competition named after two men found with the weapon used in his murder.

Cookstown father-of-nine John Scott was shot as he drove his milk tanker near Ardboe in 1979. Four years later the Armalite used to kill the RUC Reservist was found at the scene, after the SAS killed two IRA men outside Coalisand.

Troubles reference work Lost Lives says IRA men Brian Campbell and Colm McGirr approached an IRA arms cache which was being staked out by the SAS. After the two men pulled out an Armalite and a shotgun, it said, they were challenged to halt, but instead turned their weapons on the soliders, who opened fire.

According to local reports, the McGirr/Campbell cup final will take place this Sunday after an absence of a decade, at Fr Peter Campbell Park, home of Coalisland Fianna.

But Mr Scott’s son, David, called on the GAA to cancel the competition.

“My father was murdered with the very weapon these men were found in possession of,” he said. “He was a hard working decent ordinary gentleman, seen as acceptable for death because he chose to take a stand for law and order by joining the RUC reserve.

“He wasn’t sectarian, he wasn’t involved in terrorism he was known by many and liked by everyone he met. They came and got me in school to give me the news in 1979. I was only 15.

“I ask Tyrone GAA to explain why they see fit to permit one of their clubs to hold such an event, why does this club feel the need to honour two men who were heavily involved in terrorist activity and perhaps directly involved in the death of my father?”

Victims Advocate Ian Irwin, of Markethill based FRPU, said the news has retraumatised David. “The thought of people who may have had knowledge or who killed his father being honoured as heroes is abhorrent,” he said. “Again we see the sensitivities of innocent victims being trampled over.”

UUP councillor and close friend of Mr Scott, Alan Lewis, said the GAA should explain the event.

“Are these two men deemed acceptable role models?” He asked. “This tournament coupled with recent leaked footage of sectarian singing demonstrates why many unionists feel unwelcome in the GAA”.

The News Letter approached the GAA on Friday morning for comment about Mr Scott’s concerns, contacting the association at club, county, provincial and national level.

Only Ulster GAA offered any response. “We are not aware of any application to host a tournament in memory of Colm McGirr and Brian Campbell this weekend” a spokesman said.