Sunday 28 May 2017

Devenney adds fuel to fire in illegal payments controversy

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

ANOTHER prominent former player has rowed into the growing debate over illegal payments to GAA managers.

Outspoken ex-Donegal star Brendan Devenney, writing in his weekly column in the Ulster-based GAA magazine 'Gaelic Life', said: "I was troubled greatly by some of the comments made at GAA Congress by Christy Cooney.

Devenney insists that the GAA will never be able to stop illegal payments to managers, a problem that Cooney last weekend described as "a cancer running through our organisation".

"The word 'expenses' can hide a multitude of sins and there are a million and one ways to give money to a manager and hardly any of them can be policed effectively," said retired Letterkenny star Devenney.

"If the money does not come from a county board it will be gift-wrapped from a supporters' club, or a business in the county, or even further afield," he claimed.

"If you want to attract the very best, or even candidates who have to travel a fair distance, the expenses go up. The notion of each manager claiming the same rate is laughable.

HYPOCRITICAL

"For people in the top level of officialdom to complain about it is highly hypocritical given that they're on, what we can only realistically imagine to be, handsome salaries."

The Donegal man also queried why a report on this issue, completed by GAA director general Paraic Duffy last winter, has still not been made public, accusing Cooney of "gently moth-balling it."

"Why the secrecy?" he asked. "Why are we so determined to tackle things with a microphone in our hand and not when the work is already under way?"

Devenney was full-forward on the Donegal team that won the Division 1 NFL title in 2007 and his county return to Croke Park for tomorrow's Division 2 final against Laois, in a four-game bumper weekend for GAA fans.

His comments echo those of former All-Ireland winning Kilkenny captain Eddie O'Connor.

He labelled Cooney "a hypocrite" on the basis that Croke Park already has many paid officials. The president, while not one of them, gets compensated financially for the loss of earnings during his presidency.

Tipperary chairman Barry O'Brien also went on record this week, saying that he would support employing county managers as salaried 'development officers' in order to regulate the problem.

"Instead of pushing things under the table it is time we came out front -- do it straight and do it the right way," O'Brien said.

Irish Independent

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