[Sinn Fein]

18 November 2001

Adams calls for unity in GAA

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP commenting on Saturday's decision by the GAA to remove Rule 21 said:

``From the beginning of the debate around Rule 21 Sinn Fein has made it clear that this is a matter for the membership of the GAA.

``I understand why Saturday's convention voted to remove it. I think it is important to note that five out of the six counties voted to retain it. These are the counties that have suffered most as a consequence of partition, the British military presence and the existence of a paramilitary pro-unionist police force.

``In my view this vote from these counties reflects the widespread concern about the current arrangements on policing and a belief that it does not represent the new beginning to policing promised by the Good Friday Agreement.

``I welcome the remarks of Sean McCague, President of the GAA, that the decision of the convention should not be seen as an endorsement of any political party or policing service. Let me also add my voice to the appeal for unity within the GAA following this difficult debate. Rule 21 is gone. The GAA should now rally behind the President and the organisation and move forward.

``The GAA is first and foremost a great national sporting body which has done great work in the promotion of Irish sports and culture. We, who value its role in the life of our nation, from club to county to national level, must rally behind it. The GAA is a unique Irish organisation and I am proud to be a member of it.''

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