Gerard 'Jock' Davison: GAA and church step back from 'tribute' to murdered ex-PROVO IRA leader
BY SARA NEILL – 13 MAY 2015
The GAA has distanced itself from a message of support for former IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison, who was gunned down last week.
A Catholic church also sought to disassociate itself from a youth club based on its premises that also signed up to the tribute.
A full page tribute to the 47-year-old appeared in Saturday's edition of The Irish News. Signed by 63 groups, it paid tribute to the "highly esteemed" father-of-three.
Mr Davison was shot dead while walking in the Markets area of Belfast last Tuesday morning. Police are still hunting the killer. Davison was a leading republican and was linked to the murder of Robert McCartney outside Magennis's bar 10 years ago - claims he always denied. It is claimed he was ousted from the IRA following the brutal killing, and he became well-known as a community worker in the area.
The advert in the paper claimed it had been written to do "justice to the memory" of Jock Davison.
The statement said: "They say that the hardest thing for a man to do is change with the times. Jock not only managed and adapted but managed to thrive in difficult circumstances, without compromising an iota of his deeply held principles."
St Malachy's GAC joined other organisations, including residents' associations, women's groups and youth projects in putting their name below the message.
Mr Davison was a senior figure at the club, and a spokesman for the GAA said it was "not uncommon" for clubs to take out death notices for members.
He said: "This decision was entirely up to the discretion of the committee of the club. The tribute is community-orientated. I think this individual was involved in the club and he's being remembered in his capacity at the club."
He added that the page-long tribute was in "recognition of the deceased".
"The club has nothing to do with anything [Mr Davison] does away from it. When people cross the door of a GAA club they leave their past outside."
When asked if he agreed with St Malachy's decision to lend its support to the page, the GAA spokesman said: "St Malachy's hasn't breached any GAA rule."
A Catholic church also declined to put its full weight behind the tribute while Clonard Monastery Youth Centre also appears on the list supporting Mr Davison.
A spokesman for Clonard Monastery said: "The signatory was acting in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the management of the youth centre. The Clonard Monastery Youth Centre is a voluntary youth centre governed by a management committee."