A special GAA congress defers the removal of a rule that prohibits members of the British security forces playing Gaelic games.

At a special proposed called by Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) President Joe McDonagh, held in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin, the 295 voting delegates agreed to defer a decision to end Rule 21.

In the rulebook since 1903, Rule 21 bans members of the British army and police force, as well as members of the security forces in Northern Ireland from joining GAA clubs and taking part in Gaelic games.

The congress was held in camera but there was a feeling the motion could be carried by a small margin. However, when the debate ran over its allotted time, the congress agreed unanimously in favour of an amended motion to defer removing the ban until the changes in policing in Northern Ireland as laid out in the Good Friday Agreement are implemented.

Joe McDonagh made the announcement,

In response to the British-Irish peace agreement, approved in referenda by the people of all Ireland, Cumann Lúthchleas Gael pledges its intent to delete rule 21 from its official guide, when effective steps are taken to implement the amended structures and policing arrangements envisaged in the British-Irish peace agreement.

Until then Rule 21 remains part of the GAA's constitution and security forces in the North are not allowed to play Gaelic games.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 30 May 1998. The reporter is Peter Leonard.