PSNI membership ‘will not impact’ on membership of sport clubs, GAA pledges

Membership of an Irish amateur sporting league should not be a barrier to joining the police service, one of its senior members has said.

Nov 24, 2017

Membership of an Irish amateur sporting league should not be a barrier to joining the police service, one of its senior members has said. Brian McAvoy, head of the Gaelic Athletic Association’s (GAA) Ulster council, said the organisation owes its full support to members who choose to take a career with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He told a conference in Armagh that the way former PSNI officer and GAA member Peadar Heffron was treated by former team-mates when he joined the force “sent a shiver through our spines”. Last month, Mr Heffron, who was seriously injured in a dissident republican bombing in 2010, shared how GAA members would not visit him in hospital while he was recovering from his injuries. He joined the PSNI just months after the GAA lifted a rule banning members of the security services from club membership but was shunned by his team-mates after informing them of his decision. Republican activists later gave him a leaflet warning him against joining the police service. Mr McAvoy said: “If any good can come of this sorry tale let it be that the message should be heard loud and clear that any GAA member who wishes to consider a career in policing should do so free in the knowledge that it will not impact in any way on their membership of their local GAA club.” The GAA has previously been criticised for naming some of its clubs and tournaments after republican paramilitaries. In 1981, the Dungiven hurling team was renamed ‘Kevin Lynch’s Hurling Club’ after the Irish National Liberation Army member, who played for the club. Following the speech, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin tweeted: “Unequivocal statement of support from @UlsterGAA for their members who choose a career in the PSNI.”

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