Dónal McAnallen is a passionate and well regarded Irish rights activist, sports historian and writer so what is the source of the controversy that has blown up over the last few days in relation to his Irish language advocacy within the GAA? From a report by the Belfast Telegraph:
“[GAA] President Liam O’Neill could be forced into a humiliating climbdown, after he confronted a GAA employee delivering a speech in Croke Park on Saturday before staging a public walkout before the address was completed.
Dónal McAnallen, an employee of the Ulster Council, was in Croke Park on Saturday delivering a presentation on the Irish language, when O’Neill interrupted the session and made a number of angry allegations, to the effect that McAnallen was in some way harming the Irish language.
He was in Croke Park delivering a presentation on measures that county language officers and clubs could use in order to advance the use of Irish language within their units.
O’Neill took exception to the content of the text and confronted McAnallen.
When McAnallen began to explain, O’Neill refused to listen and departed the room.
Other county board representatives who were present at the meeting backed up this version of events.
A spokesperson for the GAA replied and confirmed that O’Neill did leave the meeting adding: “He was disappointed at the tone and tenor of some of the comments and at one presentation in particular, in light of the fact of how passionate he has been and continued to be in favour of the Irish language.”
From what one hears the speech discussed matters already under debate by the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association or Cumann Lúthchleas Gael) which not too long ago recommitted itself to furthering the use of Irish within the organisation. So why the allegedly explosive reaction by the GAA president? Why would greater facilities for Irish-speaking players and communities harm a movement which supposedly has the indigenous language of this island nation at its heart? More on this when I have it.