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Mid Ulster Council: Councilor Dungannon DUP says he ‘will not apologize to GAA’ OCN News

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At the monthly council meeting on Thursday, September 22, Councilor Clement Cuthbertson was asked to apologize for comments he made on social media in August, saying “the GAA always idolizes convicted terrorists”.

His comments focused on the Francie Hughes Memorial Tournament for children seven and a half and under. The tournament is named after the much-loved former chairman of Coalisland Na Fianna who shares his name with an IRA hunger striker from 1981.

Speaking at the meeting, Torrent advisers Dan Kerr and Malachy Quinn shared what they said was the pain and anger the comments had caused Coalisland and called on the DUP adviser to apologize.

Clement Cuthbertson

UUP councilor Mark Glasgow also released a statement criticizing the tournament, but previously withdrew his remarks and apologized.

“On August 9, two union advisers made bizarre and embarrassing remarks about my local GAA club,” said Cllr Kerr.

‘It appears Councilor Cuthbertson’s obsession with attacking anything Irish from a distance has caused him to make a fool of himself while another Unionist Councillor, without fact-checking, has issued statements to try to to be seen surpassing him. Cllr Cuthbertson obviously spends her days scrolling through social media looking for something to get mad at.

“This obsession with demonizing our culture has led Cllr Cuthbertson to attack Coalisland a few times now and I ask him to explain how this embarrassing episode could have happened and ask him to apologize to Coalisland Na Fianna and the family Hughes and stop attacking my culture.”

SDLP group leader Councilor Malachy Quinn told the chamber that the comments and lack of an apology caused a lot of anger in Coalisland and said the remarks “brought the council into disrepute”.

“There was a lot of anger over those comments and more over the fact that he hasn’t yet apologized for them,” Cllr Quinn said.

“He attacked the people attending the event and the teams attending, it wasn’t just an isolated event and I got a lot of angry calls that day.

“In my opinion this has brought the council into disrepute as it is a councilor attacking a local GAA event. A simple search would have shown that was not what he was claiming and I think it would be appropriate for the councilor to apologize for those comments.

In response, Cllr Cuthbertson said he would not apologize and referred to footage from two years ago, shared on social media, which appeared to show people in Dungannon Thomas Carke’s GAC tops flouting the social distancing guidelines in place at the time and allegedly using bigoted language.

“I will not apologize to the GAA. The GAA continually idolizes terrorists, whether in recent years or 100 years ago,” Cllr Cuthbertson said.

“Just as we speak of social media, my feed came up with a memory from two years ago today where Thomas Clarke fans and members of the public wearing Thomas Clarke shirts were on video singing a song bigoted and misogynist. There are still no excuses for that.

At this point, Cllr Corry told Cllr Cuthbertson that “we are not here to disparage organizations” and asked him to fix the issue at hand.

He told her he was responding as requested and went on to say that the GAA has “many tournaments named after the IRA” telling the chamber “the list goes on and on”.

The President then told Cllr Cuthbertson that these issues had been raised previously so she turned off her microphone to which he asked if the chamber ‘doesn’t want to hear about the past and how the GAA idolizes terrorists’.

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The Council’s chief executive, Adrian McCreesh, intervened at this point, reminding members that “the chairman’s decision is final”.

Bringing the discussion to a quick end, Cllr Corry told Cllr Cuthbertson that he had been asked to address the issue in question. “You’re clearly not going to, so I’m going to move on,” the president said.

Adam Morton, Local Democracy Information Service

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