Ministers’ U-turn in spite of UDA golfer
MURDERED UDA boss Jim Gray was once barred from a Belfast golf club for battering an opponent with a club indicating Londonderry Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson may have had a point about fairway fanatics despite an embarassing U-turn last week over her suggestion that bigots may even be found in local golf clubs.
The former East Belfast UDA leader Jim Gray - murdered by two gunmen over what one source described as “an internal matter” in 2005 - was barred from the Ormeau Golf Club for taking a club to a player who had beaten him.
The loyalist leader was also reported to have played at the exclusive K Club in Kildare, which went on to host the Ryder Cup in 2006.
Golf and sectarianism grabbed the headlines last week after the controversial comments by the two OFMDFM Ministers at a Community Relations Council event.
Former Sinn Féin Director of Unionist engagement Martina Anderson and her OFMDFM colleague Jonathan Bell caused consternation in local golfing circles when they suggested there could exist a hidden seam of bigotry in golf clubs.
Ms Anderson stated: “There’s attitudes among middle class society here in the north, in the golf clubs that Jonathan referred to and elsewhere.
“Talked about behind closed doors the unspoken and hidden sectarian comments that we may not hear about, but that are doing absolute fundamental damage to our society.
“We have to find a way of bringing about that attitudinal change among the hidden sectors of our society that we do not get an opportunity to engage with.
“And that may be in the golf clubs or in those spaces were there may not be tension as such but there are attitudes there that are doing damage.”
There followed strong complaints from politicans, golfers and the local branch of the Golfing Union which stated: “Our council represents a very broad section of the community irrespective of religion and class and we all get on extremely well.
“Discrimination has never been an issue in our sport and I hope it never will.”
Mr Bell and Ms Anderson subsequently apologised. Mr Bell said his remarks were clumsy and that he regretted them.
And the Londonderry MLA followed suit by apologising for any confusion over a reference to golf clubs in a speech on sectarianism.
According to a report by University College London, Jim Gray, was murdered whilst “on bail awaiting trial for money-laundering charges and, it seems, some within the UDA were concerned that he might inform on the organisation when he appeared in court.”
And according to a report by Angelique Chrisafis in The Guardian newspaper in 2005: “His violent rages, too, were legendary.
“He was banned from one golf club in Belfast after he took a club to the head of a man who had beaten him. Once, when things weren’t going his way, he is reported to have pulled down his pants and defecated on the 18th green.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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