Posted By: October 26, 2013

Patrick Murphy.Irish News ( Belfast).Saturday,October 26, 2013.
IT IS hard to avoid the conclusion that the first and deputy first ministers have
decided to take a gap- year (or five) to travel the world and leave governing the
country until later. (Motto: never put off until tomorrow what can be done the day
after tomorrow.)

Their general abandonment of government has left many debates and decisions
unresolved. So in an attempt to facilitate the work of Stormont, this column would
like to help resolve the least important of those current debates: the naming of GAA

Joe Brolly says that club names are a matter for the GAA. Jim Allister says that the
matter is everyone's business, because many GAA clubs receive public money from
Stormont. In the interests of contemporary jargon, this column would now like to
"reach out" to unionism (i have no idea what that phrase means and i doubt if those
who use it know either) by supporting Jim's argument. He appears to suggest that the
identities of dead terrorists (or even living ones) should not be used in naming any
place, event or organisation which receives public funding. Good point. All we need
now is a definition of terrorism. This column would suggest that it means the use or
threat of anti-civilian violence (also known as terror) for political objectives.
(So although armies can inflict terror, they cannot be terrorised.)

Many unionists may not agree. They see the world as consisting of only two political
species: governments and terrorists. Terrorists are easy to spot. They are those who
oppose governments except, of course, for loyalist protesters, the old UVF, the
modern UVF and the UDA, which was legal for 21 years.

So let us delve into our history to find some terrorists. How about Northern
Ireland's first prime minister, James Craig, later Viscount Craigavon? he helped to
found the UVF and imported 20,000 German rifles. (Dungiven's Kevin lynch, the
current focus of unionist attention, apparently stole a few shotguns.)

Craig signed the Ulster Covenant (which threatened to use "all means" to oppose home
Rule) and later established a paramilitary force, the B Specials, which terrorised
civilians in the new unionist state. With that record, Mr Craig might reasonably be
termed a terrorist.

So Jim Allister's argument presumably obliges us to dig up Craigavon's remains in
the publicly funded Stormont estate and to find a new title for the city named after

We will also have to rename Belfast's terrorist-designated streets (Chichester
forcibly planted Ulster); streets named after terrorised former British colonies
(Ceylon and India, for example) and end the practice of welcoming home troops
engaged in terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course unionists have a point about
IRA violence, which included terrorism. How else would you describe Bloody Friday,
the Birmingham pub bomb, the Enniskillen explosion and the massacres at Darkley and
Kingsmill? However, the killing of 18 British soldiers at Warrenpoint could be seen
as an act of war. (The justification for the war is another question.)

No GAA club is named after those who were engaged in anti-civilian terror. If
unionists might regard some as terrorists by association, today's launch of the book
lethal Allies - British Collusion in Ireland, will identify the entire British
establishment here as associate terrorists. That will mean a lot of renaming.

Most GAA clubs are named after their location, a variety of saints (in fairness, St
Peter did terrorise someone by cutting off his ear), inanimate objects (harps and
shamrocks), various grades of clergy (Croke) and poets (Peadar Ó Doirnín). Others
are named after Irish historical figures: Sarsfield (the first earl of lucan),
Michael Davitt, (an agrarian reformer who inspired Mahatma Ghandi) and John Mitchel,
who never even threw a stone and was deported to Tasmania under a law specially
created for the purpose.

One of the few clubs with a military reference is Liatroim Fontenoys (Co Down),
which is named after a 1745 battle in Belgium, in which an Irish brigade helped the
French to defeat the British. If we rename it, we must also rename the 22 UK soccer
grounds (including Windsor Park) which have part of their stadiums named after the
battle of Spion Kop in the Boer War. (James Craig fought in that war too, supporting
illegal British rule in Africa.)

So Jim Allister is right. We should not name anything after terrorists. Let us begin
by seeking a new name for Craigavon. It should be an interesting process, which
might bring our gap-year leaders rushing home.

For that reason alone, it is worth starting.