'Facility use' rule softened
Published 16/03/2011 | 05:00
THE GAA has significantly softened its rule on renting out club facilities -- the rule had been criticised as hypocritical, given that the association has rented out Croke Park to soccer and rugby.
Two clubs -- Nemo Rangers and Faythe Harriers -- have had their wrists slapped in the past year for allowing other team sports to use their facilities, though in both cases, the GAA did not take the sanction stated in their rulebook -- which is a suspension.
Central Council has now forwarded a motion to Congress proposing that the punishment for incorrect use of property can be a "suspension or fine."
And it emerged yesterday that Central Council has substantially softened its interpretation of Rule 5.1 of the Official Guide (Use of Property).
This states: "All property including grounds, clubhouses, halls, dressing-rooms and handball alleys owned or controlled by units of the Association shall be used only for the purpose of, or in connection with, the playing of games controlled by the Association".
But director general Paraic Duffy clarified yesterday that Central Council introduced an "operational policy in August 2010 which clearly distinguished between ancillary facilities and playing pitches."
He said "ancillary facilities are defined as clubhouses, halls, dressing-rooms, handball alleys, meeting rooms, indoor halls, non-full-size Astroturf facilities, squash, basketball or tennis courts." He stressed that Central Council still doesn't allow these to be used "by other sporting associations (or units of same) promoting field sports."
But "clubs, as part of their role as a community-centred organisation, may permit the use of such ancillary facilities to groups of individuals, for recreational purposes that are not considered contrary to the GAA's own aims and objectives," Duffy explained.
Nemo were hauled over the coals for allowing the Irish rugby team to use their indoor hall. They still can't rent it to the IRFU or any rugby or soccer club, but if a group of individuals rented the hall for a game of tag-rugby or five-a-side, this is no longer a problem. Clubs still can't rent out full-size pitches to other sporting bodies.