[I]Tuesday March 24 2009
THE GAAS top full-time official has reopened the controversy over the decision to give Shamrock Rovers the keys to Tallaght Stadium while excluding Gaelic football and hurling from the municipal venue.
It is a decision that simply cannot be justified, declares director-general Paraic Duffy in his annual report, unveiled to the media at Croke Park today.
After years of waiting, Rovers finally played their first match in the publicly-funded stadium earlier this month. However, GAA officials from the local Thomas Davis club, the wider Tallaght area and indeed Croke Park HQ remain angry over the Governments role in preventing the stadium being developed to accommodate Gaelic games.
We must address the perception among our members that we are not benefitting in an equitable manner from growing local authority investment in sports facilities, Duffy writes in his report.
Tallaght is the most serious example of a lost opportunity to develop multi-sport participation in a publicly funded facility.
The implications of that decision remain a huge bone of contention within the GAA, and not just for the Thomas Davis club and the other GAA clubs in the Tallaght area.
The director-general goes on to assert: We have never received an adequate explanation as to why the wishes of the elected members of South Dublin County Council to develop a genuine multi-sport venue, specifically accommodating Gaelic games and soccer, were denied by the then Minister for Sport.
The inescapable truth of the matter is that a stadium is effectively being developed, exclusively from exchequer funding, for a professional soccer club when a badly needed multi-sports stadium could, and should, have been provided in the area. It is a decision that simply cannot be justified.
Elsewhere in his report, Duffy predicts that the GAA wont receive any further requests from the FAI or IRFU to rent Croke Park once the Aviva Stadium on the site of the old Lansdowne Road opens in September of next year.
But he adds that, if an exceptional request is received, consideration will be a matter for Congress. In other words, Central Council would not have the final say and Congress would have to vote approval for such a move.
The Monaghan official also reiterates his belief that the inter-provincial championships have no future, adding: Our members and supporters have voted with their feet. They see the competitions as glorified exhibition games.
Duffy also stressed that he was “fully supportive” of the experimental disciplinary rules and he hopes they are voted into permanent rule at Congress next month.[/I]