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East Belfast GAA | 'People say...
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East Belfast GAA | 'People say things like: 'I'm a Protestant, can I play?'

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

21:33 10 Aug 2020

Dave McGreevy, Secretary of East Belfast GAA, told Off The Ball that he expected a bomb scare on the club to happen sooner than it transpired.

McGreevy joined us on Monday to discuss the situation at a club founded with a cross-community area, in an area traditionally linked to the Protestant tradition.

A number of bomb alerts were targeted at East Belfast GAA club, which are now in the hands of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), but McGreevy is unbowed.

"We did think that it would happen a whole lot sooner," said McGreevy of the incidents.

"The PSNI are dealing with it. We are still doing our cross-community thing - we are sport, we are bringing people together. that is what we are doing and what we will continue to do.

"I think that is what makes us special - it is such a simple thing. It is sport and it is bringing people together."

Naturally, incidents of this nature require a lot of conversations with people involved with the club.

"Everyone reacts differently. There were a couple of guys due to start with the hurlers last Thursday, and they pulled out. They were not from a GAA background, so that is very disappointing.

"I'm not criticising them at all, everyone reacts differently. It is just not fair on those guys and other people that are training that feel the need to pull out.

"We are supporting them - there are people making sure that everything is managed properly and everything is ok. Our priority is our players and members."

East Belfast GAA

On the lighter side of things, uptake for membership for the island's newest GAA club has been very good - from both sides.

"We have had support from the entire east Belfast community - from everyone, across the board. People from here are playing for us.

"We were looking to get together an under-12 boys' team together and enter a team next year, and the amount of people that got in contact challenged my perceptions. It is now how it is advertised.

"There were a few wee incidents up above, and the groundkeeper straight away came over and checked we were ok. He was saying 'you guys are very welcome here' and made us feel more than welcome."

McGreevy said that he got emails of support from people he 'really didn't expect to get emails off.'

"We were getting weird emails like 'I'm a Protestant - can I join!?' says McGreevy, laughing.

"It seems to be that people joining the club don't really look at the world [through the lens of Catholicism/Protestantism].

"Who looks at the world like that, realistically? They are the kind of people that we're getting to join!"

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