Robinson sidesteps GAA acknowledgement

First Minister Peter Robinson today sidestepped an open initiation by West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff to acknowledge the achievement of Cookstown Father Rocks in winning the All Ireland Intermediate Club Football title on Valentine’s Day.

McElduff, who chairs the Assembly’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee, extended the invitation to “acknowledge and congratulate” the Tyrone club’s achievement during Monday’s First Minister’s Questions.

The invitation was met by an inaudible jeering and laughter within the chamber, with many MLAs barely able to contain their wide grins.

Robinson’s jovial rebuff announced, “I am sure that he has no territorial interest in the latter matter to declare Mr. Speaker.”

The First Minister then continued to briefly address McElduff’s question relating to the upcoming priorities for The Executive’s Legislative Programme.

The Cookstown gaelic football side’s victory over Kerry intermediate champions Spa in Croke Park marked a historic occasion for the Tyrone club. They are the first club from within the 6 counties to lift the title since the competition was established in 2004.

Robinson’s failure to offer a response to the invitation wasn’t entirely a surprise to McElduff, who said although he didn’t feel Robinson acted ungraciously, felt the First Minister had missed an opportunity and that he “didn’t take the tee up to make the point”.

Journalist Eamonn Mallie was more derisive of the exchange, and used his popular Twitter blog to express the feeling of exasperation felt by many GAA fans, at a missed opportunity for Robinson as a DUP First Minister, to initiate a fresh olive branch to the organisation:

“Why did Peter Robinson refuse to salute Fr. Rocks’ win in Croke Park? “Well done” to the Tyrone men would not have killed him”

Mallie later posted:

“Why does Peter Robinson not get it that nationalists want to know he is ‘our’ first minister? That is why Fr Rocks’ win should be his win.”

The GAA has had endured strained relations with past and present DUP Culture Ministers. Gregory Campbell caused insult when he described Tyrone’s 2008 All Ireland victory as an “international event”. While present incumbent Nelson McCausland caused furore when he stated he didn’t know who the present All Ireland champions were (Tyrone), adding that he didn’t know who the Northern Ireland champions were in squash or lacrosse either.

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About AldousDuke
Mid Tyrone journalist, not so freelance any more.

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