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19/11/2001

Rule 21 is ‘history’ says GAA president

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has voted to scrap its controversial Rule 21 which bans members of the security forces playing Gaelic games.

The organisation made the decision at a special congress convened in Dublin on Saturday November 17.

A two-thirds majority was required in order to lift the ban and was obtained following a show of hands from the 301 delegates. GAA president Sean McCague said: “Some people will say this is a very significant move. But it had to be dealt with. Now it is history. An overwhelming majority of delegates were in favour of its deletion. Those in favour and those against all spoke. Obviously those against accepted the decision as democrats. As far as I’m concerned it’s just another day. It will be forgotten about next week.”

The move was welcomed by Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid who said: “This is a progressive decision made by an association that plays a large and important role in community life north and south. I welcome this contribution towards the creation of a more inclusive society.”

The vote on Rule 21 at Saturday’s special congress was taken following the official changeover earlier this month from the Royal Ulster Constabulary into the Police Service of Northern Ireland, as part of measures undertaken in the Good Friday Agreement. (AMcE)