Leadership needed to respond to sectarianism

A PROTESTANT GAA player has quit the game over sectarian abuse by rival players.Darren Graham (25) from Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, whose soldier father and two uncles were shot dead by the IRA, said he was hounded out because of his religion.Darren said things came to a head on Sunday during a match against Brookeborough.”When the free was given one of the other players ran past me and called me a ‘black’ such and such. I said to the ref he must have heard that – but he said he was too far away. Then about three seconds later another player ran past me again and said, ‘It’s true you are a black such-and-such’.”It does hurt, it does make you feel low. Usually I let it brush over my shoulder but on Sunday I just had enough and I took the shirt off my back and said I wouldn’t be putting it back on until something was done.”The official complaint has been made now so we’ll have to wait and see where we go from here.”His decision to walk away is a major blow to the Gaelic Athletic Association’s efforts to widen its appeal and attract more Protestants.The Gaelic Players Association has condemned the abuse in the hope that he may reconsider his decision to retire from GAA.The GPA said in a statement tonight: ‘The GPA condemns the sectarian abuse suffered by Lisnaskea Emmets club player and former Fermanagh county hurler Darren Graham. We would hope that with the support of his club and the Fermanagh County Board, Darren might reconsider his decision to walk away from the game. He has already displayed great courage and fortitude by pursuing Gaelic Games to a very high standard in very difficult circumstances. This type of behaviour cannot be tolerated within the GAA’.Show Racism the Red Card is a player led anti-racism intitiative working with governing bodies and primarily with the players associations. Show Racism the Red Card hopes that Darren Graham receives the full support of his club in Lisnaskee to ensure that there is no place for racism or sectarianism.Show Racism the Red Card is working pro-actively to encourage integration and linked with that to oppose racism and sectarianism. Top GPA members will be featuring in our education DVD which is due to be launched in October.The project was launched in February 2006 by Niall Quinn, Dessie Farrell and Curtis Fleming.There is a full report of the incident in Fermanagh in the Irish Independent and in the Belfast Telegraph from 2nd Augustwww.independent.iehttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article2826456.ece

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