New grant money to fund 2012 arrears
MONEY earmarked by the Government to pay this year's grants to inter-county footballers and hurlers will instead be used to pay last year's grants, the Sunday Independent has learned.
Minister for Sport Michael Ring announced last Thursday that a revised scheme for players had been agreed with the Gaelic Players' Association which would see the Irish Sports Council make €900,000 available over the next two years. This would equate to between €400 and €700 per player.
"I accept the principle behind the scheme and felt it was important that it be continued in some form," said Minister Ring. "I am delighted that the Irish Sports Council will be able to put in place a renewed scheme with the GAA and GPA. Crucially it will cover the period until the end of 2014, which provides stability and certainty to the scheme."
However, players did not receive any money under the scheme for 2012 despite an agreement being in place and the Sunday Independent understands this money will be paid out of this year's kitty.
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In fact, GAA sources say that player grant funds allocated for 2013 and 2014 will be used to cover the 2012 and 2013 seasons, which means there will be no means to fund grants in 2014 unless a new agreement is reached.
Sources also say that the grant had been in place for the past few years and they didn't envisage any break in the chain. Therefore, as far as they are concerned, there is no question of a year of payment being missed out.
They added that all the paperwork is completed for the 2012 grant and they would be using this year's funds to allocate to players for last season and would be hoping to do this very soon. They were also confident that they would get continued funding in 2014 when the two-year deal expires and that the scheme would carry on from there.
The sources also maintained that the Association had adhered strictly to the terms of the existing deal, terms that were clearly set out when the grants were agreed at the end of the last decade and that everything was now in place for players to receive their 2012 funding as soon as possible.
Last Thursday, Minister Ring announced that €900,000 would be provided by the Irish Sports Council in 2013 and 2014 for the inter-county players' support scheme.
In his announcement, the minister said that this renewed scheme would cover the period until the end of 2014. Traditionally the grants are issued before Christmas; however, last year the grant didn't materialise at the usual time, leading many players to take to Twitter to vent their frustrations.