Former Armagh football captain Jarlath Burns has said the GAA should not remain neutral if there is to be a referendum on Irish unity after Brexit.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme Mr Burns, who is the Armagh delegate on the Ulster Council of the GAA, said the association's basic aim is to strengthen national identity in a 32-county Ireland.

"That doesn't make us neutral on the issue of a border poll, it gives us a position," he said.

He added: "The interesting thing is there's been 36 referenda since the foundation of the state and while people got very emotionally involved with the last one, the termination of pregnancy one, the GAA has always steadfastly remained neutral.

"And in fact it brought people in and made it very clear whenever they were using GAA grounds to promote one or other of the perspectives on that referendum"

"The interesting thing about a referendum on a border poll, the GAA wouldn't be neutral" he said.

"The GAA's basic aim, it states the association is a national organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the national identity in a 32 county Ireland through the presentation and promotion of Gaelic Games."


"That doesn't make us neutral on the issue of a border poll, it gives us a position on a border poll and a position that I as a GAA member in a border county would like to think that from a logical, as well as an ideological, perspective that the GAA would have a strong position on."

The former Armagh captain also made it clear that he was speaking as an ordinary GAA member.

He said: "I would like to think that the GAA would take that position, I'm speaking just as an ordinary GAA member here I don't have any executive role in the GAA but I would like to think the GAA would honour that responsibility we have, it's part of our ethos.

"The GAA is not just a recreational distraction in Ireland, it's a focal point for life in entire communities, and if you want to find where the GAA nation exists and where the Irish nation exists, just scrape a wee bit away from the GAA and you find where the DNA is.

"I would like to think that it would be logical and rational, given the fact that is one of our basic aims, that we would take that position" he added.