Father outraged at GAA’s leniency in racism appeals

January 21, 2013

The father of Crossmaglen Rangers player, Aaron Cunningham, has hit out at the Ulster Council of the GAA after it overturned bans handed down to two Kilcoo players for alleged racial abuse during the Ulster Club Final last month.

An investigation following the match found that the Brannigan brothers, Aidan and Darryl, racially abused Aaron Cunningham during the match, repeatedly calling him “a n*****”.

At the time, Ulster GAA President Aogan O Fearghaill said anyone found guilty of racism would be dealt with “as severely as possible”.

Subsequently, Aidan Brannigan was suspended for six months while Darryl Brannigan was handed a four month ban.  Many slammed these suspensions as being too lenient.  However, in an appeal heard by the Ulster Hearing Committee recently, the bans were overturned with Darryl’s completely rescinded and Aidan’s reduced to four months.

A member of the Kilcoo Eoin Roe’s club was also found to have racially abused Aaron Cunningham.  Having been identified, he has been debarred from membership for life.

Joey Cunningham said the Council has “failed miserably” in tackling racism within the sport and the appeals outcome has prompted him to question the competence of the Ulster Council to address the issue.

“The Ulster Council made all the right noises and said all the right things after this happened so what I’m hearing at the moment is very disappointing,” he said.

“I would like to ask the question why the six months (ban) was rounded down to four months.  For them to round it down to four months makes a mockery of this issue that they are trying to sort out.  He’s either guilty or he’s not guilty.

“If he didn’t do it, why give him any suspension?  If he did do it, that needs to be made clear.  There’s no halfway house here,” he added.

In a statement, the Ulster Council acknowledged the cooperation of Kilcoo Club, the members of the Sub Committee, the CCC and the Hearings Committee in dealing with the matter, but added the right of appeal to the Central Appeals Committee still exists and it would be making no further comment at this time.