Saturday 21 October 2017

GAA just the ticket for TDs

It has long been a tradition that TDs and senators like to be seen at sporting events; sadly for many the desire to attend isn't always matched by a desire to pay for a ticket.

The GAA has a standing policy that it will grant requests for VIP passes to big games at Croke Park for politicians from competing counties. This is something of a bugbear for a lot of GAA members who, quite frankly, don't see any good reason for it but, for now, that's the way it is.

Having said that, an extraordinary recent episode has been whispered about in the dark corners of Leinster House. In the week before a Leinster football championship double-header at Croke Park -- Meath v Kildare and Dublin v Wexford -- the provincial council received an unusually high number of requests from TDs and senators for VIP passes to the game.

The Leinster Council refused to comment when contacted yesterday, but it's understand that many were from politicians not from the province, let alone the competing counties, and many had never applied for free tickets before. All the requests were granted but it appears the GAA was suspicious because a photographer was sent to take a picture of the people sitting in the seats when match day arrived.

The following week, for the Leinster hurling final between Galway and Kilkenny, another batch of requests were received, again including people not known to have applied for VIP passes in the past. This time, none were granted, leading to one politician commenting that the GAA are "tight" with tickets. For the next big game, last weekend's Leinster football final between Dublin and Meath, it appears normal service had resumed and the spate of additional requests ceased.

Efforts to get to the bottom of this proved difficult, canny politicians having spread turpentine to throw us off the scent, although informed speculation is that one or more of their number had used colleagues to round up extra tickets on their behalf. Strange indeed.

jgreene@independent.ie

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