'Gambling is polluting the principles of game' - Butler
Published 26/01/2016 | 02:30
Paudie Butler feels gambling is "polluting" the GAA and urges swift action to return its core values of health and belonging .
Having spent a lifetime in the GAA, the former National Hurling Co-ordinator sees huge changes occurring, including what he sees as the "sidetracking" of the Association's principles.
"Someone is polluting the air talking about gambling and maybe it's the vested interest of the big betting companies who are using us to promote their own ends," said Butler.
"We have no financial ends, we have no business in the dealing of money. It's a danger now and I think it's time for us to arrest it. People are trying to devalue us.
"Trying to turn it into a commodity and that's the opposite of why we were founded. Sport's value is to play and it's being sidetracked."
The Tipperary native believe the GAA's founder Michael Cusack successfully established it to bring back national self esteem through the expression of their own culture.
"Out of that came 1916 and the movement for self-determination," Butler added. "It was never monetary and it can't be monetary. There's too much talk about sacrifice, money and alcohol in sport and it's a danger.
"Value and worth are certainly not in the Association's interest. It seems to be a movement in society that unless a thing has monetary value, it has no value, that cripples society quickly."
The former Laois manager believes the GAA have been "asleep" on this issue and he also feels the plight of the club player has reached crisis point.
"We have to protect our club players. If no golf was played in Ireland until Rory McIlroy was available, wouldn't there be an outcry? No games take place until the county man comes back and this isn't right," he said.
"People can't get married or go on holidays or make plans, they don't know when there's a fixture and it's causing problems at home.
"We've had six or eight years of that and kids are coming at 14 and asking 'why do we have to sit on the sideline now?' I see Premier League players unhappy to be paid to sit on the sidelines.
"So why should we put up with it? When you get elite you're the opposite of inclusive and we need to realise that. If we have no enjoyment and all slavery then Cusack failed."
"But I think he succeeded, we'll measure up again," he added. His enthusiasm for the GAA is infectious with beliefs at the very heart of the organisation.