Tuesday 17 October 2017

Grealish's Revenue stance a throwback to the bad old days

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

SO you thought the attempt to eradicate illegal payments to GAA managers was being driven by the Association's leadership, in particular, director general Paraic Duffy and president Christy Cooney.

After all, it is 23 months since Duffy declared that it had to be taken on and 10 months since Cooney described it as a "cancer running through our organisation".

And it's over a month since Duffy produced a detailed document on the issue which county boards were asked to consider.

All the coherent evidence points to a Croke Park-led campaign unless, of course, you're Noel Grealish, Independent TD for Galway West, former leading light in the Progressive Democrats and, prior to that, regarded as being close to the Fianna Fail gene pool.

According to this esteemed parliamentarian, the payments issue is purely media-driven. Not only that, but the mischievous media have taken to contacting the Revenue Commissioners, demanding to know: "Are ye going to do anything about this?"

"We all know who this is being driven by. It is being driven by the media. We, as politicians, know that ourselves down through the years," he told a special Galway GAA Convention.

He had deeper concerns too.

"We are going down a very serious road with the issue of the Revenue Commissioners getting involved and coming out to audit clubs. A lot of people here dealing with Revenue know that they have wicked powers and I think it is going to frighten a lot of clubs."

Warming to his militant theme, he then made an extraordinary call. "We have to stand up and everybody should get together. We should not let the Revenue come in and start auditing clubs."

Got that? Revenue, with all their "wicked powers" should be blocked from carrying out an audit which is well within their remit.

That, it appears, is the considered view of one TD who, up to a few years ago, was a senior figure in a party which featured as a Coalition partner in a Government that played a huge role in wrecking the country, not just for this generation, but also for the next.

Which special powers should GAA clubs -- or their counterparts in other sports -- invoke to avoid a Revenue check, if it were deemed appropriate?

Is there to be no end to the arrogance of the political classes? Or is this a throwback to the bad old days where three nods, two winks and a knowing smile were enough to circumvent regulations?

As for the claim by Grealish that the payments-to-managers issue and, by extension, the possible tax implications is purely media-driven, he might care to check Duffy's document.

It contains several references to the tax implications, including the following: "Abusing the payment of expenses is in clear breach of the law of the land and leaves units of the Association open to investigation by the Revenue Commissioners with potentially painful consequences for those concerned."

Still, GAA clubs or counties should not be concerned. Noel Grealish will man the barricades when Revenue come knocking.

Irish Independent

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