Paidi says 'open Croke Park for rugby and peace'
AENGUS FANNING AN ANGRY Paidi O Se told the Sunday Independent yesterday that the manner of his firing by the Kerry County Board, not the fact of it, had caused him deep disappointment. "How would any man feel about the way it was done after 33 years of service to Kerry as a footballer and a manager?" said O Se, from Marbella, where he has a second home.
"I have to put it on record that I was extremely disappointed in the manner it was done, and in which I was told that my services were no longer required. I have a clear conscience on it. I felt sorry for my family and friends. And I myself was extremely hurt.
"After 33 years of service, I didn't want a bunch of roses. But I can tell you something, it is up to the people of Kerry to find out how my services were terminated and how that message was conveyed to me." O Se, who was attending a four-team Gaelic football tournament in the Spanish resort, unfolded ambitious plans for Westmeath.
He committed himself to using his considerable political clout to ensure that there is substantial grant-aided investment in sports facilities in schools in the county.
His statement came hours after Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, said the Government would provide a ?192,000 grant for O Se's home club in Kerry, the Gaeltacht.
But Paidi also promised to use his political contacts on a broader canvas in Westmeath. As a Director of Failte Eireann, his ambition is to redevelop tourist business in the Lake County, from Britain and other EU countries in particular. With his close friend Seosamh Mac Donnchadha of Foras na Gaeilge, and former GAA President, he proposes to launch a drive to help the Irish language in the county.
He plans to link up with professional sports methods in other countries to give his new players a kick-start to greater things.
O Se believes the GAA missed an opportunity in not making Croke Park available for the Irish-Scottish bid for the European Soccer Championships. He considers that this could have been done on a one-off basis, thereby not creating a precedent, and that this would have done immeasurable good for the GAA in public relations terms.
He also insists that Croke Park should have been made available, again on a once-off basis, for Ireland to play England in the International Rugby Championships this year. "At a time when the Taoiseach was at a critical stage in the peace process, it would have been an immense gesture," said Paidi.
On Friday night, an emotive Paidi O Se addressed a packed audience in Marbella's Havana Bar and finished his speech with the rallying cry: "Up Westmeath!"