Armagh Camogie apology for IRA chanting is ‘weak and disappointing’ says Stephen Farry MP

The apology by Armagh Camogie Board for ‘IRA chanting’ by one of its teams after a major victory was “weak and disappointing” says Alliance MP Stephen Farry

By Philip Bradfield
Friday, 18th December 2020, 3:58 pm
Updated Friday, 18th December 2020, 4:29 pm

Earlier this month a video emerged on social media of what appeared to be a women’s Camogie team dressed in Armagh colours, celebrating in their changing room, with unified chants of, “Ooooo, Ahhh, Up the Ra!”

DUP MLA Jonny Buckley claimed the video was Armagh camogie team celebrating their victory in the Junior All-Ireland championship.

The video clip provoked anger across social media, while others defended those in the footage, insisting they had been chanting “Ooooo, Ahh, Up Armagh”.

DUP MLA Jonny Buckley said the video showed Armagh camogie team's celebration after victory in the Junior All-Ireland championship.

Mr Buckey said the team had secured a “huge victory” but that their manner of celebration was “another inexcusable example of IRA glorification within gaelic games”.

The Armagh Camogie Board said it would investigate and declined to offer any comment.

But now it has released a formal apology.

“Further to the Armagh dressing room celebrations following their victory in the All-Ireland Premier Junior Camogie Championship final on Saturday, December 5th, Armagh Camogie Board wish to state that it was never the intention to offend or upset anyone,” said the statement, first released to the Belfast Telegraph. “On behalf of Armagh Camogie we sincerely and deeply regret any offence caused as a result of this incident.”

But north Down Alliance MP Stephen Farry was not impressed with the response.

“Weak and disappointing response from Armagh Camogie Board,” he Tweeted. “Apology needed not just regret. And need to acknowledge the singing was wrong, not just ‘offence caused’.”

He added that the GAA - a separate organisation - “has previously been stronger and clearer, and should be so again” in similar situations where terrorist groups had been glorified.

Similarly, DUP MLA Mr Buckley said the statement was “a welcome first step”.

The Upper Bann MLA said, “Making the glorification of terrorists part of a sporting celebration remains both inexcusable and inexplicable. However, I welcome the comments from the Armagh Camogie Board. The statement undoubtedly does not go as far as I would have liked, but it would be ungracious not to recognise the step taken and to welcome it.”

He added: “The Armagh Camogie Board have said they will carry out a full investigation and that is to be welcomed. I would hope that investigation can move beyond regret for any offence caused and apologise for the act itself. The statement and commitment to investigate is a welcome first step which I hope can arrive at that outcome.

“It would be wrong however to focus everything on one team or on one match. There have been a number of incidents across gaelic sports, with the Armagh camogie team  simply being the latest example.

“I repeat the call that there must be an acceptance of that wider problem across gaelic games and that a willingness must be shown to take meaningful action. That will require leadership from those in authority over the sports but also from political and civic nationalism in Northern Ireland.”

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