Victims' group hold GAA talks

RATHFRILAND man Sammy Heenan was part of a delegation from victims’ support group SEFF (South East Fermanagh Foundation) who met with GAA representatives from national and provincial level recently.

SEFF - which has a South Down office based in Rathfriland - represents the interest of those who have suffered at the hands of loyalist and republican violence across the island.

Ulster GAA CEO/Provincial Secretary Brian McAvoy, Ulster GAA Head of Community Development Diarmaid Marsden and the GAA’s Director of Communications Alan Milton, met with SEFF Director Kenny Donaldson and his colleagues Karen McKeever and Sammy Heenan at the meeting in Armagh, which was described as ‘constructive’.

During the talks, the SEFF delegates were provided with an overview of the numerous cross-community initiatives that the GAA is presently engaged with, and they acknowledged the positive community contribution made by the GAA.

They also expressed concerns about the actions of a small minority of supporters at a number of Ulster Championship games this year and on the wider issue of GAA memorials.

Speaking after the meeting, Brian McAvoy said: “It was a humbling experience to meet with the SEFF representatives and hear their personal testimonies.

“They stressed that they are a support group for victims, irrespective of creed, gender or ethnicity.

“The group pointed out that what might be seen as banter by some, such as the singing of a line from the song ‘Celtic Symphony’, is interpreted as a glorification of terrorism by some victims and causes undue hurt to them.”

The GAA representatives stressed that the association was both a sporting and cultural organisation, with a clear and unambiguous anti-sectarian and anti-racist ethos.

Both parties agreed to continue their engagement going forward.