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GAA meanness of spirit highlights fears

category international | irish social forum | news report author Wednesday April 13, 2005 21:24author by The plain truth Report this post to the editors

The unanimous decision by the Derry County Board of the GAA to oppose opening Croke Park to other sports, followed by probable similar decisions by all six northern counties, though not necessarily by the same margin, while disappointing is nevertheless unsurprising.

This meanness of spirit and lack of generosity simply highlights unionists' fears as to how they would be treated in any all-Ireland arrangement in the future.

This decision was clearly not adopted on conscience grounds as Croke Park has already played host to numerous other events, including rock concerts.

These were pragmatic commercial decisions, designed to accelerate the repayment of loans. However, it appears that some organisations' money is superior in some aspect to that of others, even if the monetary amount is identical.

The Republic's Government has donated taxpayers' money to fund the development of Croke Park and, therefore, a strong case exists to make it available to other organisations.

How many GAA clubs in Northern Ireland, boasting superb playing pitches and excellent changing rooms and club houses, owe this in no small measure to money obtained from lottery grants and sports bodies, collected from taxpayers who have little or no connection with the GAA?

Unfortunately this episode reveals that the cancer of bitterness and sectarianism is not only one-sided but also has a long way to go before being exorcised. Regrettably, reconciliation is still on such a distant horizon that it is not even registering a tiny blip on the radar .

author by Roosterpublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 01:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

why should the tax paying public as a whole fund a sporting organisation that persists in catering for a narrow section of our society. Why can the GAA not come in from the cold so that the sport loving public can enjoy and participate in everyones sports but instead they persist in this narrow sectarian outlook.

author by Northern Prodpublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 10:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Typical dribble! How can you compare the non-opening of Corke Park to sectarianism?? All grants available to the GAA are also available to the FAI and IRFU but these organisations spend more money on consultancy firms to make their decisions for them rather than actually getting down to doing anything- more so the FAI than the rugger crowd. In theory a united Ireland team would be good, ran similarly to the IRFU but the bigwigs at the FAI would have to go!
These days sporting organisations are run like businesses and in my opinion it wouldnt be beneficial for the GAA to be helping to promote other sports- basic business sense!
Your article is merely a scaremongering exercise which holds no substance in the real world!

author by GAA Memberpublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As a GAA member, and a Protestant one at that, I am strongly opposed to the opening of Croke Park to soccer and rugby and like most people opposing the am not motivated by hatred of soccer and rugby.

But soccer, rugby and GAA are rivals for the support, membership and involvement of people.

The garbage about sporting grants displays wilfull ign

So let me make a proposal. We'll give all the money we have ever gotten back from the State, with interest, since its foundation.

In return, the State will pay, in full and with back interest, the GAA for holding together rural communities, providing community centres the length and breadth of this country, providing sporting facilities, leisure and fitness facilities, decades of enjoyment, a sense of belonging in urban and rural communities, teaching young people responsibility, teamwork and physical fitness and skills. Helping to keep local economies afloat on matchdays.

Oh, and fighting the commercialisation of sport by remaining a proudly amateur game relying on the goodwill and commitment of volunteers.

The thing that really annoys people on this site is that the GAA is a more revolutionary organisation than any of the tiny wee sects some of you belong to. And if we choose to protect the development of our games because the FAI and the IRFU are so riddled with utter incompetence that's our choice as a democratic organisation.

author by Barrypublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 14:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How can denying Croke Park to the Irish soccer team, whose members, players, supporters and management are overwhelmingly from a catholic background, be sectarian ?
Ive no idea about the rugby team but I would presume there are quite a few protestants involved there for historical reasons, especially the promotion of rugby in certain schools particularly north of the border.

Are these people claiming rugby is a "protestant" sport ?.

Are these people seriously claiming the GAA dont want protestants in Croke park ? Clarify your accusations of sectarianism and back them up please.

This is just utter nonsense.

author by Zeppopublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 17:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To describe the GAA as catering to a small section of Irish society displays a wilful ignorance of the facts.
Yes, the GAA acts like a business but it also does far more for its grassroots sports clubs than the FAI. While far from perfect, and I have many differences with them, I don't see why they should be expected to bail out the FAI for years of financial incompetence and cronyism.
Obviously the current debate centres around temporarily opening up the ground for the duration of the Lansdowne renovations. Maybe this will be the thin end of the wedge, maybe not. But the GAA are only permitted to have a certain amount of non-GAA events in Croke Park each year. So even the overturning of the rule might be pointless. Unless we're talking about some serious "persuasion" with regard to the residents in the area of Croke Park, of which I am one. Not to be ruled out I admit.

author by Roosterpublication date Fri Apr 15, 2005 13:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

No, it is the GAA who have labelled rugby a british sport

author by Barrypublication date Fri Apr 15, 2005 15:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

when did they say that.

author by too lazy for anarchypublication date Sun Apr 17, 2005 13:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...between Roy Keane and Garth Brooks? Keane has never played at Croke park.

author by Barrypublication date Sun Apr 17, 2005 18:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Keane never played there either. What an example the man is.

author by the citizenpublication date Sun Apr 17, 2005 23:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Nationalist and conservative, the 120-year-old GAA has always shunned "foreign sports". Until 1971, its members were banned from playing soccer, rugby or cricket and could be suspended for even attending such matches as spectators."

Not a "british" but rather a "foreign" sport ...
Therefore the correct accusation is not sectarian but rather "xenophobic" (xenos = foreigner, stranger).

This ban on "foreign sports" is a relict of the blinkered nationalist mindset of the late nineteenth century ....
The GAA should not imagine that it can hide in its ivory tower of cultural exclusivity in the vain hope of remaining immune to globalization and the great multi-cultural Babylon of the New World Order .....

Related Link: http://xtramsn.co.nz/sport/0,,12021-4281452,00.html
author by Barrypublication date Mon Apr 18, 2005 19:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If the GAA had a crap ground, instead of a world class stadium the media would never have whipped up this campaign in the first place.

author by robbypublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 02:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A new era is dawning for Irish football and rugby fans, now that the GAA has decided to open up Dublin's prestigious Croke Park for international games, albeit on a temporary basis. Ticket shortages could be a thing of the past, as Lansdowne Road's maximum 49,000 capacity is exchanged for the GAA stadium's 83,000.

The extra seating - and standing room - is just one of the benefits to flow from a sensible, progressive decision, taken in the face of opposition from the six northern counties. A ban on competing sports, imposed nearly a century ago, had no place in today's Ireland, where there is increasing interaction between players and followers of all games.

Changing a rule that had such a history, based on fear that native Irish sports might lose out to "foreign games", was bound to be controversial, but the day is long past when the GAA needed such protection. It now exudes confidence and has a reputation, with players and fans, that can stand any amount of competition.

Besides, Croke Park has already played host to pop concerts and will benefit substantially from U2's visit this summer. No sporting body can afford to let such a major investment - in which the Irish taxpayer has a considerable interest - lie idle, and GAA sports throughout the island will get their share of the new income.

Sport itself is the winner, as a stadium that is among the best in Europe prepares to house the home internationals of rugby and football while Lansdowne Road's unsatisfactory facilities are being updated. The inconvenience of Irish teams having to play at British venues has thankfully been avoided.

No one doubts that the governing bodies of rugby and football will take up the GAA's offer, at least temporarily, but the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has raised questions about the viability of Lansdowne Road as an international stadium. He still favours his own shelved project, in west Dublin, arguing that there are too many difficulties in a built-up area, without off-street parking.

Northern Ireland has a special interest in what happens, not only because of the prospect of more international tickets being available, but because of its own planned multi-sports stadium. Just as Dublin debates where any new development should be, Belfast has to consider how redevelopment of grounds like Ravenhill fits in with the Maze project.

From a wider perspective, the GAA decision represents a major boost for the peace process, at a time when it needs it most. It shows that even a body steeped in history can and should reach out to other traditions, for the benefit of everyone.

author by Barrypublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 02:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Despite the fact that ALL the occupied 6 cos voted against it !!!

yeah right .

Hopefully the residents of the Croke park area will do their bit and keep foreign games ( as well as Union Jacks , the sash and God Save the Queen ) out of the GAAs top stadium . This isnt the place for it .

author by Noelpublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 11:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For foreign read British.
Since when was American Football a gaelic game?
Or Australian rules?

Rule 42 was always an anti-British rule, hence the more bigoted response form the 6 counties of Northern Ireland.

author by barrypublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 13:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

people who are actually under foreign occupation tend to get a bit more touchy about it. that doesnt make them bigots . And as we can see from the above post some people seem to reckon that Croke Park is now THEIR stadium rather than the GAAs . This will end in tears , embarrasment and catastrophe .and those of us who voted against will be proven correct to have done so , not to be bigots .
The GAA will regret the day it opened the door to people who either dont care for or actively despise gaelic games and Irish people.

author by Mikepublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Iím an England rugby fan and I was just browsing around finding out about attitudes to the opening of Croke Park for rugby, seeing as Iíll probably be at the game with friends from England and Ireland. I hope you guys wonít mind me just adding my 2cents on this.

Iíve personally not seen any anti-Irish attitudes among English rugby fans, who certainly dont Ďdespise Irish games and peopleí; soccer might be a different matter, but maybe I have a skewed view because I wouldnít want to make friends with bigots anyway.

A lot of English rugby fans have actually learnt a little bit (not much, but some of the important facts like the massacres) about the history of Croke Park, either through press coverage of the decision or the little bit of Irish history taught at schools, and do actually appreciate something of the significance of the event. I, and I hope all other English rugby fans, will respect the rules and wishes of the owners of the stadium (GAA) as weíre guests in their stadium. Itís a generous, but perhaps controversial move by the GAA and itís up to the England rugby fans to behave with respect towards our hosts. Iíd be very surprised and very angry if they donít.

So if the GAA were to decide that the British national anthem should not be sung, then Iíll go along with that and I certainly wouldnít be offended; itís their stadium and not mine. Likewise if they decide that the protocol should be the same as at a Lansdowne Road game, Iíll go along with that too.

Hopefully weíll see a great game and all enjoy ourselves afterwards; after all, a lot of us are paying good money to see some of the best players in the world do their stuff on the pitch.

All the best, Mike

author by Residentpublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 16:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As a resident I can tell you now most of us are worried about this Saturday night as once again we are invaded by the northern horde who will insist on getting legless and insulting anybody from Dublin who is on their own. This happens every match and any resident will tell you so. Even the bar staff are worried. English rugby fans are at best harmless. They are coming over to watch a match and drink, in whatever order it happens. When your down, look at the locals they are not going to defend the stadium they wish it would go away. Mind you like a lot of locals I will be as far away as possible from Drumcondra on Saturday

author by Spinninq Quicklypublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 19:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The IRFU has opened Lansdowne Road to soccer in the past, and the GAA has allowed to use of Croke Park for "rival" forms of recreation - e.g. rock concerts, so the opposition seems rather mean-spirited.

As for the GAA holding communities together, I find that a rather grandiose claim, but that may just be my own bias, as I've no interest in football of any form, let alone hurling or rugby.

author by Jimpublication date Thu Feb 15, 2007 19:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

1) There is a perception that the vast majority of the cost of redeveloping Croke Park was provided from taxpayers funds. This is a myth, pushed by an anti-GAA media to push the opening Croke Park agenda. In fact, less than 10% of the cost came from taxpayers, and that was just so the stadium could be finished in time to host the Special Olympics opening ceremony. There were significant lottery grants awarded, which are essentially available to any sporting organisation, and the majority of the cost was covered by the GAA itself. Given the increased attendances at Croke Park, this taxpayers money has more than been paid back through increased exchequer returns from the larger crowds at Croke Park.

2) Regardless of how much money was provided by the government, there is no automatic entitlement for all and sundry to have unrestricted access to Croke Park. The government funds many institutions, sporting and otherwise, and there is no requirement on these organisations to provide access to anyone.

3) One of the condidtions attached to the GAA opening Croke Park to soccer and rugby was that the redeveloped Lansdowne Road could accomadate Gaelic Games...AFAIK, the GAA were even asked to submit a list of games which might be played in Lansdowne Road...all very neighbourly, you might think. However, in the plans for Lansdowne Road recently submitted, the pitch size is substantially shorter than the minimum for a GAA pitch. Surprise, surprise, there is no national outcry about this. Given that the taxpayer is providing nearly 40% of the estimated cost of Lansdowne Road (any anything overbudget will also be provided by the tax payer), where is the media frenzy?

4) Rule 42 banned the use of Croke Park by games and organisations who were a direct competition to Gaelic games. It makes sense, surely, for an amateur organisation to protect itself from what are essentially business rivals, by not allowing them to use its property. Australian rules, or compromise rules, American football and rock concerts are not competition to the GAA, in terms of players, volunteers or supporters. That rule 42 banned "foreign games" is another media myth. The ban from Croke Park was for games which were in direct competition with the GAA. This was not xenophobia by the GAA, since it was banning fellow Irish teams from using their facilities, this was common sense.

5) There is a distinct possibility that the IRFU never intended in redeveloping Lansdowne Road. They now have their foot in the door in Croke Park, and as Keith Wood said on the RTE programme about the opening of Croke Park last week, why would they go back to a 50000 seater stadium when they are already in an 80000 seater. The IRFU is sitting on approximately EUR 1 billion worth of Dublin 4 property, and they only have to pay the GAA EUR 1-1.5 million per game in Croke Park, out of which they get ~ 3 times as much. It makes no sense for them to redevelop Lansdowne Road - keep playing the game they are and they'll be a permanent fixture in Croke Park before long. With a hugh cash reserve from selling Lansdowne Road, their future would be secure, and they would have enough money to start coaching in every school in the country, fully professional AIL etc. The GAA, and God help us, the FAI, could not hope to compete with an organisation with this kind of funds.

author by Paraic - GAApublication date Thu Feb 15, 2007 20:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I see in the papers where the Brit Supremo of Occupied Ireland Peter Hain is thinking of making a sort of an apology at Croke Park for the 1920 Massacre.

The only apology acceptable, especially to the descendants of those massacred, is for the Queen herself to turn up at Croke Park and deliver that apology.

We won't wait around for that !

author by Spinning Quicklypublication date Thu Feb 15, 2007 20:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I've looked at the stadium from the railway crossing - there are at least *two* places where some of the concrete in the West Stand has fallen off, exposing rebar. It does need repair at least.

author by crucamimpublication date Thu Jan 03, 2008 15:03author email crucamim at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address Derryauthor phone Report this post to the editors

I found the following post interesting - post no 2 of this discussion.

"why should the tax paying public as a whole fund a sporting organisation that persists in catering for a narrow section of our society."

For the same reason that tax, paid by GAA members and supporters, is used to help sports which are in competition with the GAA.

" Why can the GAA not come in from the cold so that the sport loving public can enjoy and participate in everyones sports but instead they persist in this narrow sectarian outlook"

It does not want to allow its resources to be used to promote the products of a rival. What is sectarian about that? Even is it were sectarian, so what? I suspect the poster used the word "sectarian" in an attempt to bully GAA supporters into silence. Just as socialist politicians and journalists use the word "racist" to bully into silence Irish people who are worried about immigration.

Moreover, the section of society catered for by the GAA is hardly narrow.

I really do wish that people, who are not members of the GAA, would stop interfering in our affairs. We do not interfere with the IRFU or the FAI. Why can rugby and soccer supporters not return the compliment?

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