Western Australia’s GAA President Robert O’Callaghan has spoken out in defence of the sporting organisation in light of recent media reports with regard to alleged antisocial behaviour by the Irish in Perth.
It emerged this week that St Finbarr’s GAA had sent an email to its members stating that police were “extremely unhappy and appalled by the antisocial behaviour which is taking place all too often on the streets and in the pubs across Perth and its suburbs”.
It said WA Police had told them they would be visiting clubs in the city to get the message across to all Irish in Perth.
The Irish Echo understands the contact between the GAA and police was at an informal level.
Mr O’Callaghan said he is keen to reiterate the message that the GAA is not the target of the campaign.
Instead, the GAA are merely acting as a vehicle to get the message out there to the Irish community in Perth.
“It has nothing to do with the GAA of Western Australia,” he told the Irish Echo.
“Basically some Irish officers who are based here in Perth, who have got friends in the Perth clubs took it upon themselves to have a chat with the Irish football and hurling association just to let them know what was going on in Northbridge,” he explained.
“They just requested that the GAA club asked them to pass on the message to any friends or relatives or any people that they come across and tell them that they need to behave.
“The minority of the Irish, as you have in any society there is always a bunch of bad eggs, that upsets it for everyone else. That is basically what the police wanted to say.
“They never approached the GAA, they just took it upon themselves to go down and have a chat with the clubs,” he added.
He is adamant that members of the GAA clubs in Perth are hardworking people who are in Australia to earn a clean, honest living and nothing more.
Mr O’Callaghan is now worried that the wrong perception of the GAA may be portrayed as a result of their efforts.
He added: “Our standard of football here is very good, they train three nights a week and we play a game Saturday and Sunday so there’s no messing around. “These guys are all semi professional athletes, that’s what they’re here to do.
“In terms of the police coming in to speak to them it’s just a social message that they’re getting across.
“They’re basically using the GAA as a platform to pass on this message to the wider community.
“They do the same to AFL clubs. They do the same with the indigenous population. There’s an alcohol awareness program and I think it’s great to get the word out there,” he added.
Mr O’Callaghan said he has been living in Australia for over 23 years and personally hasn’t seen any issues with the Irish in Perth.
“This is the first time in 23 years that this has been brought to my attention,” he said.
“I would tell any Irish fella who came here looking for work to come and join the GAA.
“The GAA in Western Australia, we give them support. We give them a social network. We help them to find work.
“We are here to help,” he concluded.