GAA star's mum roots for the Yes team


The mother of the one of the Cork stars taking part in today's All Ireland Football Final has come out strongly in favour of a Yes vote in the Lisbon referendum -- for sporting reasons.

Mary Shields is mother of John Shields, who will play at full back. She also represents Ireland on the EU Committee of the Regions and is a Cork city councillor.

"I was amazed to discover when I first went to Brussels that there was an active GAA club there -- with both Irish and European players," she said yesterday.

"So you would think that given the importance of sport for bringing people together, that it would be obvious that sport should be supported by the European Union. However, at the moment the European Union has no competence in this area.

"The Lisbon Treaty would change this ridiculous situation by giving the European Union competence to assist sport directly for the first time.

"The European Union will achieve this by assisting sports organisations and sports persons in particular young sport persons," she said.

The Lisbon Treaty states that the European Union "shall contribute to the promotion of European sporting issues." The Lisbon Treaty will also open up the possibility for EU funding for sport. According to the European Commission, tens of millions of euro could be made available to sport every year if the Lisbon Treaty is adopted.

"This could be used to fund grassroot projects and to modernise sports facilities.

"It will also enable the European Union to assist sports organisations with running programmes which benefit the community and athletes at large. The European Union could support sports organisations' activities to get young people involved in local sport and to promote a healthy lifestyle," she said.

"The Lisbon Treaty gives us a unique chance to put sport where it belongs and to make it part of our shared European identity.

"A vote in support of Lisbon is a vote for sport. But first, good luck to the Rebels on Sunday."