No apology for GAA remarks says DUP man

Cllr Clement CuthbertsonCllr Clement Cuthbertson
Cllr Clement Cuthbertson
A DUP councillor has told a meeting of Mid Ulster District Council he will “not be apologising to the GAA” before being cut off by the Council’s Sinn Fein Chair.

At council’s monthly meeting Councillor Clement Cuthbertson was invited to apologise for remarks he made on social media in August claiming “the GAA still idolises convicted terrorists”.

His comments were made in relation to the Francie Hughes Memorial Tournament for children aged seven and a half and under which is named after the former chairman of Coalisland Na Fianna who shares his name with a 1981 IRA hunger striker.

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Speaking at the meeting, Independent Republican Dan Kerr and SDLP Councillor Malachy Quinn conveyed what they said was the hurt and anger the comments had caused in Coalisland and called on the DUP councillor to apologise.

UUP Councillor Mark Glasgow had also issued a statement criticising the tournament but has previously withdrawn his remarks and apologised.

“On August 9, two unionist councillors made outlandish and embarrassing remarks about my local GAA club,” said Cllr Kerr.

“This obsession with demonising our culture has led to Cllr Cuthbertson attacking Coalisland a few times now and I call upon him to to explain how this embarrassing episode was allowed to happen and ask him to apologise to Coalisland Na Fianna and the Hughes family and stop attacking my culture.”

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Councillor Quinn told the chamber the comments and lack of an apology had caused a lot of anger in Coalisland and said the remarks “brought the council into disrepute”.

“In my view, it brought the council into disrepute as this is a councillor attacking a local GAA event,” he said.

In response, Cllr Cuthbertson said he would not be apologising and referenced footage from two years ago, shared on social media, which appeared to show people in Dungannon Thomas Carke’s GAC tops flouting social distancing guidelines which were in place at the time and appearing to use sectarian language.

“I will not be apologising to the GAA. The GAA continually idolise terrorists, should that be in recent years, or 100 years ago,” said Cllr Cuthbertson.

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“Just when we are talking about social media, my feed came up with a memory from two years ago today where Thomas Clarke fans, and members of the public wearing Thomas Clarke shirts, were on video singing a sectarian, misogynistic song. There has still been no apology for this.”

At this point the Council Chair, Sinn Fein Councillor Cora Corry. told Cllr Cuthbertson that “we are not here to bash organisations” and asked him to address the matter at hand.

He told her he was responding as requested and went on to say the GAA has “many tournaments named after the IRA”.

The Chair then told Cllr Cuthbertson she would be turning off his microphone to which he asked if the chamber doesn’t “want to hear about the past and how the GAA idolises terrorists”.

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