GAA pens letter to county secretaries reiterating neutral stance on abortion referendum
The organisation has reminded county boards of their need for neutrality as players voice support for both sides.
The GAA has sent around a letter to county secretaries asking them to distance the association as a whole from talk of the Eighth Amendment debate.
The letter was sent to all 32 county secretaries on Monday morning to inform them of the organisations' unbiased statement and keen interest to be excluded from the referendum debate's rhetoric.
Letters of this ilk are regularly sent by the GAA prior to referendums and elections, reiterating the association’s stance of neutrality in political affairs.
This comes after a number of prominent GAA figures, such as camogie star Aoife Cassidy and Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, launched a group to campaign for a no vote in the forthcoming referendum on abortion.
The group, GAA Athletes for a No Vote, was launched at Ballyfermot Sports Centre, Dublin 10 on Saturday.
— Ballyfermot DLS GAA (@BallyfermotDLS) April 21, 2018
In a statement released on Saturday, local team Ballyfermot De La Salle GAA Club said that it wasn’t aware of the launch until media reports emerged.
A spokesperson for the club said that it "received no communication in advance" and confirmed that it was “in no way associated” with the launch.
“It would be wholly inappropriate for the club to be associated with the launch as the GAA and its clubs do not become involved in political matters," the statement read.
They added that no GAA or club facilities were used for the event.
GAA Athletes for a No Vote claim that the Irish government's proposals are not inclusive and "seek to exclude one group of people - the unborn - from society".
It said its members "respect and cherish women" saying it believes "that as a society we have much more, so much more to offer women than the death of our children".
Superb #Savethe8th event yesterday where a group of @officialgaa stars launched "GAA Athletes for a #NO vote" campaign.
Fantastic atmosphere &real enthusiasm building behind the #LoveBothVoteNo campaign.
Also good to see #repealthe8th/#together4yes support falling in a new poll pic.twitter.com/PlAVv1Fi58
— SaveEighthSupporters (@SaveEighth) April 22, 2018
The GAA remains staunch in their attempt to maintain tradition and promote political neutrality, an approach enshrined in the organisation’s rulebook.
Members of the GAA or players are not impeded from political canvassing on their own bat, but they are not permitted to make use of club facilities while doing so. They also must not share their personal views at GAA events.
The GAA posted a statement to its website on Monday morning confirming its neutral status when it comes to political agenda.
"The GAA is a non-party organisation whose individual members may, of course, decide to take positions on political issues in accordance with their own personal views and commitments. As an Association, however, the GAA does not take a position, or comment in any way, on either elections or referenda."
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launched the Fine Gael campaign on Saturday which pledged that if the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution is repealed, the Government will introduce a “safe, regulated doctor-led” system in Ireland.
Varadkar backed the repeal movement stating that, as a country, we need to "trust women and trust doctors."
At the launch, the Taoiseach condemned the information shared on a controversial No campaign poster which appears ubiquitously around Dublin city.
“If we really believe the Eighth Amendment will result in five times as many women having an abortion - what does that say about us?
"Do we seriously believe there are large number of women in this country who give birth every year and will suddenly decide to have an abortion just because it is legal to do so? If that is the case we think very little of our women and think very little of ourselves,” he said.
“We should be a country in which we trust women and trust doctors to decide on what’s right.”