'GAA not the ones causing rural decline' - president defends ticket price hikes
The GAA president has launched a spirited defence of the association's decision to increase ticket prices, while blasting politicians for overseeing the decline of rural Ireland.
John Horan claimed making GAA tickets more expensive will boost local economies. He said it means clubs will have more money to invest in infrastructure and insisted this would create rural jobs.
Yesterday, he became the first GAA president to address the Seanad.
He told senators a vote by the body's central council to increase ticket prices was met with "unanimous" support earlier this month.
"We will not apologise for doing good work on the ground," he added.
However, just €500,000 in extra funding has been allocated to be invested in infrastructure at clubs around the country. This is to be raised through the ticket hikes.
Mr Horan told senators the GAA is battling to relieve rural decline and any extra money generated through ticket sales would benefit communities and help create jobs.
He said the money would also be used to help emigrants get jobs and find ties to home when they move abroad.
He then hit out at the closure of rural post offices and the failed delivery of rural broadband.
"The GAA are helping with rural decline, we are not causing it. We are not the ones closing rural post offices. We are not the ones that are not delivering the internet to local rural areas in this country but it is our members in those areas who are finding it necessary to leave communities or go to the east coast and foreign shores," he said.
"They are the problems that need to be solved.
"We will be there, we will provide the facilities and we will provide the network but ultimately we cannot be held responsible for rural decline."
The controversial price increases came into effect for last weekend's national league games, with the cost of a ticket up by a third from €15 to €20.
Stand tickets for an All Ireland final will increase by €10 to €90. An equivalent Hill 16 ticket will cost €45, a €5 increase.
He said this has not had an impact on season ticket sales, with 3,000 more season tickets sold prior to last week's league matches compared to the same period last year.
Mr Horan insists extra revenue raised by the hikes will then be diverted to clubs.
"That grant to those clubs will increase employment to those areas because it will go in to infrastructure programmes," he said.
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