Former Armagh footballer says “the GAA wouldn’t be neutral” in post-Brexit Irish border poll 8 months ago

Former Armagh footballer says “the GAA wouldn’t be neutral” in post-Brexit Irish border poll

Strong words from former Armagh captain Jarlath Burns.

Brexit continues to be a colossal mess, with the looming deadline for Britain to exit the European Union on 29 March in question.

A report in the Telegraph last week indicated that Theresa May is considering delaying Brexit for up to two months.

That news arrived shortly after word that the process could be delayed until 2021, according to EU officials.

From there, the UK Labour Party announced its intentions to call for a second referendum on Brexit.

If that wasn't enough, it appears that Brexit will indeed be delayed even if members of the British parliament throw their support behind Theresa May's deal.

So yeah, not going great.

You might be wondering where an Irish institution like the GAA stands on things, particularly with regard to the highly contentious border issue.

Former Armagh football captain Jarlath Burns has said that the GAA should not remain neutral if there is to be a referendum on Irish unity after Brexit.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week on Sunday, Burns, who is the Armagh delegate on the Ulster Council of the GAA, said that the association’s basic aim is to strengthen national identity in a 32-county Ireland.

“The interesting thing about a referendum on a border poll, the GAA wouldn’t be neutral," he said.

“The GAA’s basic aim - it states the association is a national organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the national identity in a 32-county Ireland through the presentation and promotion of Gaelic Games.

“That doesn’t make us neutral on the issue of a border poll," Burns continued.

"It gives us a position on a border poll and a position that I, as a GAA member in a border county, would like to think that from a logical as well as an ideological perspective that the GAA would have a strong position on.”

Burns noted that he was speaking in his capacity as an ordinary GAA member.

“I would like to think that the GAA would take that position," he added.

"I’m speaking just as an ordinary GAA member here. I don’t have any executive role in the GAA, but I would like to think the GAA would honour that responsibility we have. It’s part of our ethos.

The former Armagh captain went on to emphasise the importance of the GAA to Irish people.

“The GAA is not just a recreational distraction in Ireland, it’s a focal point for life in entire communities," Burns contended.

"If you want to find where the GAA nation exists and where the Irish nation exists, just scrape a wee bit away from the GAA and you find where the DNA is.

“I would like to think that it would be logical and rational, given the fact that is one of our basic aims, that we would take that position,” he added.

You can listen to the full segment below - Burns' interview begins at 6:35.