POLICE in Australia are targeting GAA clubs as part of a crackdown on drunken Irish immigrants.
The association has been asked to warn its 5,500 members in the country of the consequences of anti-social behaviour.
Such antics by Irish immigrants have been an issue since a national TV current affairs programme in January featured video footage, shot over a seven-day period, of fights outside an Irish bar on Sydney’s Bondi Junction.
In a police letter sent to a GAA club in Perth, western Australia, it was stated that drunken behaviour had damaged the reputation of the Irish, with some rental agencies even refusing to rent properties to immigrants.
St Finbarr’s GAA Club in Perth wrote to its members to advise them of the police warning.
The club president said: ‘The following message is not only for your perusal, but also one which you can pass on to all your fellow Irish friends here in Perth.
‘The (Western Australia) police are extremely unhappy and appalled by the anti-social behaviour which is taking place all too often on the streets and in the pubs across Perth and its suburbs.
‘Even Rental Agencies are not as willing to rent properties to Irish people here in Perth, as they are getting destroyed during parties, and being left in terrible conditions once vacated.
‘We have been advised, that over the next few weeks, the Perth Police will be going around to all of the GAA clubs and talking to club members, advising them of the same.’
She added: ‘They want to get the message across to all Irish in Perth that what has been going on is just not acceptable, and if it continues there will be consequences.
‘Police will be adopting a zero tolerance policy for any anti-social behaviour.
‘This a very serious matter, and I hope that you and your friends will now be aware of the consequences.’
Last night, GAA spokesman Alan Middleton said: ‘The tone of the letter is very serious.
‘Approaching the GAA in Australia is a logical thing to do but it is not so much a reflection of what our members there are up to – it is just a very good way of tapping into the Irish community there.
‘But this sort of approach is unprecedented. I can’t recall an example where a civil authority has approached the organisation in this way before.
‘It reflects how serious the police there are taking this.’ Using the GAA as a liaison with the Irish community makes sense as the association has more than 5,500 members in Australia.
The Department of Foreign Affairs’ website warns Irish travellers of the consequences of anti-social behaviour.
It says: ‘Contrary to the popular perception of Australia as a laid back and relaxed country, very strict approaches are taken by the police and the courts when it comes to law and order.
‘The laws on “street offences”, like public nuisance, drunk and disorderly, and common assault are very strictly enforced in Australia.’