A top Belfast police officer has clarified that a hurley stick is “not an offensive weapon.”
The clarification video and statement posted to the PSNI’s West Belfast social media Facebook site came after GAA coach, Kevin Grieve, said he was warned that the hurl he had in his car was an “offensive weapon.”
Mr. Grieve was stopped by the PSNI on the Andersonstown Road for a routine insurance check and was then asked by the officer about his hurley stick on the passenger seat.
Mr. Grieve was then told he was being given a warning for having “an offensive weapon.”
This is not the first time in recent years that police in Northern Ireland have been criticized after warning young people for carrying a hurling stick.
“I think it is ridiculous that a piece of sports equipment could land you with a criminal charge,” said Mr. Grieve. “I would be amazed if this is a law. If it is it needs seriously updated or changed and looked at.”
He added: “I coach kids for a living, I tell them to carry their hurl everywhere. I tell them to have it with them at all times, you need to live with your hurl on you to pick up and perfect your skills. Are they [kids] going to be charged?”
Posting a video and statement to their Facebook page, Chief Inspector Norman Haslett said he was “acutely aware of the significance and importance of Gaelic games in the West Belfast community in terms of culture, heritage, identity and of course sport.”
“I want to clarify clearly that a hurl is not an offensive weapon, it’s a piece of sporting equipment,” he said.
”I want to apologize to the driver for any offence that may have resulted from his interaction with police and invite the driver to chat through the incident at his convenience.”
West Belfast MP, Paul Maskey, described what happened to Mr. Grieve as a “serious incident.”
“Not only is Kevin Grieve a member of St. Agnes’ GAC, he is a GAA coach,” Maskey said.
“Players, coaches always have a hurl about them. It’s second nature and part of our heritage, our culture.
“Kevin Grieve, myself, and Chief Inspector Haslett are due to sit down at a meeting to thrash this issue out as this has to stop.
“I want to ensure that what happened to Kevin Grieve is the last time and we have total clarity on how hurling sticks are not offensive weapons.”
This article appears courtesy of the Irish Echo. For more stories, visit their website here.