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GAA responds to Save the 8th launch and says it has 'no position' on elections or referenda

It comes after a group of GAA athletes called for a No vote in the upcoming referendum.

Updated 3.06 pm 

THE GAA HAS today written to county secretaries asking them to distance the association from the Eighth Amendment debate ahead of next month’s referendum.

A letter was sent to all 32 county secretaries this morning, TheJournal.ie understands.

The GAA regularly sends letters of this type before referendums and elections, reiterating the association’s position that it does not get involved in political activity.

The organisation has since released a public statement saying that while its members may take a view on political issues, they do not represent the views of the GAA.

“The GAA is a non-party organisation whose individual members may, of course, decide to take positions on political issues in accordance with their own personal views and commitments,” the statement read.

As an association, however, the GAA does not take a position, or comment in any way, on either elections or referenda.

The GAA’s stance on the Eighth Amendment referendum was brought into the spotlight over the weekend, when a group of GAA athletes launched a series of videos calling for a No vote.

In a statement released on Saturday, Save the 8th said that a number of athletes including Aoife Cassidy, who captained Derry club Slaughtneil to an All-Ireland camogie title in 2017 and 2018, and Tyrone manager Mickey Harte were calling for a No vote in the upcoming referendum.

Mickey Harte Mickey Harte Source: Jonathan Porter/INPHO

It quoted the players as saying the GAA’s mission statement was to “actively seek to engage with and include all members of our society”.

We are an inclusive organisation. There is a space for everybody at our table.
In keeping with those principles, we are coming together today to ask the Irish people to vote NO on 25 May.

The launch took place at Ballyfermot Sports Centre.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Ballyfermot De La Salle GAA Club said that it wasn’t aware of the launch until media reports emerged. It said that it was “in no way associated” with the launch.

“It would be wholly inappropriate for the club to be associated with the launch as the GAA and its clubs do not become involved in political matters.”

It said that the decision by players to be involved in football/hurling coaching sessions is a personal matter for parents.

It added that no GAA or club facilities were used for the launch.

Separately, All-Ireland winner Eamon McGee spoke at the launch of the Donegal Together for Yes campaign on Friday, and called for a respectful debate on both sides.

McGee said that he was acting in a personal capacity but acknowledged that he had been asked to speak as a result of his GAA career.

- Additional reporting by Fintan O’Toole and Rónán Duffy

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