‘GAA must ask itself why so few Protestants get involved’ says DUP MLA Jim Wells

Following the victory of Tyrone in GAA’s All-Ireland championship at the weekend, one DUP MLA has said those leading the sport must ask themselves why so few Protestants are attracted to it.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 8:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 8:53 am
DUP MLA Jim Wells said it is not his place to congratulate Tyrone on winning the All-Ireland championship. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Jim Wells made his comments after a string of unionists offered congratulations to the winning players, including DUP First Minister Paul Givan.

Mr Givan said that “it is great to see our local sportspeople excel, and the Tyrone team has certainly done that”.

As to whether he would congratulate Tyrone GAA, Mr Wells said it was not his place to do so, because he did not represent the county.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He told the News Letter: “Would rugby or football not be asking itself very, very serious questions if it was entirely supported and participated in simply by the one community?

“In my own area of south Down, I have never, ever come across a Protestant who has any involvement whatsoever with the GAA.”

He said in the 23 years he has been in post, any requests to meet with GAA leadership figures in the region over his concerns about sectarianism have gone unanswered.

“There’s a responsibility on the GAA to make itself more acceptable to the wider community, and not be seen as a single-identity sport,” said Mr Wells, who described himself as being a “semi-detatched” DUP member, due to a falling-out with the leadership.

“First of all they could stop naming their clubs after dead hunger strikers. Stop having competitions dedicated to the memory of dead terrorists.

“Places which would be perceived as being of a unionist pursuasion will not be dancing in the streets over this, and the GAA has to ask temselves why.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Ben Lowry

Acting Editor