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4 June 1998 Edition

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Sportsview: A `sort of' victory

A sort of ``fudge'' was the outcome to the Special GAA Conference on Rule 21 held behind closed doors last weekend in Dublin. The decision to delete the rule was deferred by the GAA Central Council as the two-thirds majority required was not forthcoming. A compromise motion was accepted by the gathering. The compromise was to delete the rule after ``effective steps are taken to implement the amended structures and policing arrangements envisaged in the British-Irish agreement''.

The acceptance of the compromise motion by the leadership was reportedly done in the interests of preserving the unity of the association. It was, however, a clear kick in the teeth for GAA President Joe McDonagh and others who wanted to unilaterally do away with the rule. The idea for the special conference was McDonagh's.

The opposition was led by eight of the Ulster counties (Cavan being the exception), and Cork. Ulster had successfully blocked the immediate deletion of the rule, to some unspecified date in the future. Reports from the conference insist the meeting was evenly split on the issue, with the debate, in the words of McDonagh, ``forthright and comprehensive''.

The GAA leadership has however committed itself to removing the ban on crown forces members. Joe McDonagh's statement after the conference stated: ``The Gaelic Athletic Association is committed to the cause of reconciliation among the people of all Ireland based on mutual trust and tolerance. Recognising that the concept of an exclusion rule has no relevance in a situation where the national and cultural traditions of the people of all Ireland are equally recognised and in response to the British Irish peace agreement, approved in referenda by the people of Ireland, Cumann Luthcleas Gael pledges its intent to delete Rule 21 from its official guide when effective steps are taken to implement the amended structures and policing arrangements envisaged in the British-Irish pece agreement.''

Hopefully, when the GAA does considers the rule is no longer required, and deletes it, the terms `RUC', and `crown forces' will also be organisations spoken of in the past tense.


On the playing front the men from Cork were back on winning championship form after a barren six years, with a victory over rivals Limerick in the Munster Hurling Championship. In Leinster the gap was just too much for the Dubs' hurlers as they suffered an onslaught from Kilkenny. The optimism shown by Dublin supporters and officials was short lived as the gap in class between the two counties was on display for all to see at Parnell Park. Derry overcame the challenge of Monaghan at Celtic Park. Derry's three-goal blitz was enough to see them cruise to victory over the Monaghan lads.

Gazza deflated

And what about poor old Gazza? Dropped by Glen Hoddle from the English World Cup squad, the Geordie Whinger threw a tantrum when told and departed back to Blighty. That was the cue for endless sickening coverage, polls, Jimmy Five Bellies etc on the decision from, who else but Sky. It made my day. Plenty of time now for his favourite pastimes of boozing, wife-beating and playing the flute!


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1