Friday 23 August 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'GAA pits county against club'

The new inter-county hurling and football championship formats first implemented in 2018 have increased the number of games, competition and drama. However, this comes at an enormous cost to clubs - and I believe it is the greatest challenge they have ever faced (stock photo)
The new inter-county hurling and football championship formats first implemented in 2018 have increased the number of games, competition and drama. However, this comes at an enormous cost to clubs - and I believe it is the greatest challenge they have ever faced (stock photo)
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - the growing commercialisation of the GAA, its status as a 'product' and the detrimental effect this is having on its clubs needs to be addressed immediately.

On November 1, 1884, a meeting was convened in Lizzie Hayes's Hotel in Thurles. This meeting saw the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association "for the preservation and cultivation of national pastimes". The intervening 135 years has seen the establishment of 2,200 GAA clubs - which have been the bedrock of the organisation.

The new inter-county hurling and football championship formats first implemented in 2018 have increased the number of games, competition and drama. However, this comes at an enormous cost to clubs - and I believe it is the greatest challenge they have ever faced.

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It has resulted in club players, mentors, volunteers and their communities being abandoned by the organisation for the months of May, June, July and August quite simply the height of the summer months.

This dire situation cannot continue past this year. The destructive effect this is having particularly in rural Ireland, where the GAA is now in many parishes the only social outlet, will result in stakeholders leaving the organisation in even larger numbers. The inter-county league quarter- and semi-finals must be removed. The All-Ireland finals must go back to their traditional dates and two to three windows must be created for meaningful club games during the summer.

It is 51 years since John Healy published No One Shouted Stop. The book that chronicled the emergence of the economic decline of rural Ireland and look what has happened. Now is the time to issue this clarion call again. Croke Park must stop taking clubs for granted. The new corporate motto, Where We All Belong, rings very hollow and the fear is that the newly-formed Fixture Review Committee will only be a whitewash.

The fixture calendar is a farce. The manner in which clubs are being treated is a disgrace. Are we to be the generation of GAA people who failed to shout stop?

I know as an active member and advocate of the GAA that I am ashamed for not doing so before now.

Dave O'Neill,

Ballycallan, Co Kilkenny

None so horrified as a 'blind' government

Sir — Can we now assume that RTE and the Sunday Independent are the only conduit of information to this Government?

Uncovered, quite easily apparently, several corrupt local councillors. The Government was horrified...

Then we had millions of fake breath tests. The Government was horrified...

Children waiting in agony for years for scoliosis treatment. The Government was horrified...

CervicalCheck scandal. The Government was horrified...

And last week, creches where children were ill-treated. The Government was horrified...

You can see where this is going. There are none so blind as those that will not see!

Gerard Barrett,

Sandyford, Dublin

Right to condemn Isil bride Smith

Sir — Dr Ciara Kelly deserves our thanks for expressing the sentiments of the silent majority with regard to Lisa Smith (‘Why I have zero sympathy for Lisa Smith’, Sunday Independent, July 21).

Smith willingly rejected every decent Irish value when she pledged allegiance to Isil at a time when the internet was awash with boastful videos showing their obscene crimes.

Smith has said repeatedly that she wanted to live under Islamic rule. Happily there is an obvious solution to her current plight — Saudi Arabia.

Isil espouses a form of Wahhabism, the extreme creed that is Saudi Arabia’s state religion.

Let Leo Varadkar request the Saudis accept Lisa Smith and her daughter. She can then await there the arrival of a caliphate without further bothering the good people of Ireland.

Karl Martin,

Bayside, Dublin

We buy TV licences, they show repeats

Sir — Over the last few months, listeners to and viewers of the national licence-funded broadcaster have been bombarded with a series of adverts (some of which are really silly) warning consumers of the terrible consequences which they could face if not possessing a valid television licence.

The compilers of such inane threats obviously do not bother to consider the other side of the picture. You see, there’s a never- ending output of repeats on our national TV stations. When sitting down and going through the nightly schedules, it can be difficult to find an offering or two which has not been screened previously.

This is particularly noticeable in the summer months. Can someone tell me how many times are we expected to sit through reruns of Reeling In The Years? 

The situation has become so drastic that perhaps consideration should be given by the management at Montrose to initiate a new repeats channel!

Bill McMahon,

Navan, Co Meath

Ireland a closed society in the past

Sir — With reference to Dr Brian Murphy’s letter in last week’s Sunday Independent, I don’t think he can contest that Ireland became a closed society after independence was won.

Taoiseach John A Costello stated that if there was conflict between points of view, he would obey the Catholic bishops and not the will of the people. In 1948 the Department of Foreign Affairs sent a telegram to the Pope declaring Ireland’s desire “to repose at the feet of your Holiness the assurance of our filial loyalty and of our devotion to your August Person...”

The Catholic Church was the law. The Ne Temere decree set a barrier to Catholics and Protestants marrying. Ireland was a closed society with compulsory conformity.

Stephen Fallon,

Barrington Street, Limerick

Time to end these political collections

Sir — Kevin Caulfield’s letter regarding a political party holding a collection outside his local church on a Sunday made me think that it’s time that these annual church-gate collections were stopped altogether.

It is a practice that harks back to a time when church and State were one. This is no longer the case. The Catholic Church and some of the political parties diverge on many vital issues.

I resent having to face these intrusions on my privacy on Sunday mornings. It can be argued that it starkly contrasts with what we like to think of as the privacy of the ballot box.

Anthony McDonagh,

Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan

IT issue was not known to officials

Sir — In her article last week (Sunday Independent, July 21 ‘Why does the Minister for Health not know what’s going on?’), Eilis O’Hanlon suggests that the IT issue which was brought to the minister’s attention on July 10 was known to officials in his department a month previously, or that his department may have known of an issue in February.

This is not accurate.

The department has set out the sequence of events which led to it becoming aware of this issue in a note which has been published on its website.

The correspondence from the minister’s private secretary referred to in the article was seeking an individual’s personal details in order to ask CervicalCheck to follow up her particular case.

On June 25, CervicalCheck responded to the department noting that this woman’s smear test had been reported on eight days previously and that while the woman’s GP had received her result, the normal process for notification of results had unfortunately not occurred in this woman’s case due to an IT issue.

The letter confirmed that CervicalCheck was addressing the issue with the lab in question and that they were writing to “all women who have been affected”. This was the first suggestion that there was an IT issue.

The department sought further detail immediately from the screening service and a report was provided on July 10. On receiving the report, the department informed the minister and advised him it would continue to engage with the screening service to seek further clarity. 

The department can also advise that it fully intends to make all correspondence available to the rapid review and has already confirmed this to the independent reviewer, Professor Brian MacCraith. The department met Professor Brian MacCraith on July 18, in regard to his rapid review, for which the terms of reference include “to examine the appropriateness of the escalation and if, how and when the communication of the incident within the HSE’s governance structures and between the HSE and the Department of Health, and the relevant CervicalCheck committee structures was managed”.

In that context, the department intends to provide the rapid review with all relevant documents.

Deirdre Watters,

Head of Communications, Department of Health

Pay-per-view against community spirit

Sir — Last weekend many parents had little choice but to gather up their kids and hustle off to the pub in order to follow the fortunes of their county in the Super 8s. And as  Joe Brolly pointed out (Sunday Independent, July  21) there were many thousands who did not even have that option.

Frustration at the GAA selling exclusive rights to pay-per-view companies is growing.

It is extraordinary that our national amateur sport, under the influence of the suits that walk the plush carpets at HQ, is being allowed to slide inexorably towards becoming nothing more than a money-making vehicle by selling exclusive rights to operators — which bars access to many thousands.

The GAA’s roots in the community are being severely damaged. Is it time for supporters to form together so they too can become embedded in the Croke Park clique? To do as the GPA has done, and try to save our games from the mitts of the money-grubbers?

Speaking of the GPA, they repeatedly protest that they exist to promote player welfare, fully acknowledging that the GAA “is a community-based volunteer organisation promoting Gaelic games, culture and lifelong participation” for all — not just those who can afford to buy pay-per-view services.

Well here’s an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to that ethos by placing a motion on the agenda of their next agm which would see players refuse to play in any game that is being televised exclusively on pay-per-view.

It is time for all lovers of our amateur games to shout stop.

Jim O’Sullivan,

Rathedmond, Co Sligo

Macabre spectacle for us twitchers

Sir — I note Joe Kennedy’s musings on the evidence of a non-resident bird “bird-killer” with a grim reputation for impaling its victims (Country Matters, Sunday Independent, July 21). He believes it has all the hallmarks of a migratory shrike.

The gruesome behaviour of the bird seems to contradict its benign appearance and modest size — but, nonetheless, you are drawn to the headline.

I wonder and ask if there are increasing signs of visits from other rare species like the waxwing and woodpecker, as covered by Joe in previous articles. Perhaps, in the future, these species may be followed by equally exotic and flashy varieties like the bee-eater, the oriole or the hoopoe?

In the meantime, “twitchers” among us might head to Kerry to indulge in seeking a sight of this macabre spectacle. 

Damien Boyd,

Frankfield, Cork

Johnson against spirit of his idol

Sir — Boris Johnson has confirmed that his new administration in the UK is determined to leave the EU. It is ironic that Johnson’s great idol Winston Churchill first mooted the European idea at a speech he gave on September 19, 1946, at the university of Zurich.

In his speech Churchill called for the setting up of “a ‘United States of Europe’ back-boned by Germany and France...”

In 1951 the Treaty of Paris was signed creating a coal and steel community which became the foundation block of the modern EU. Churchill was a far-seeing man, and realised after World War II that Britain had lost its empire status and could not stand alone in economic or military terms on the world stage.

It appears the present day leaders in the UK do not accept this situation and are hopelessly at sea in deluded lost empire bullishness. It looks like they do not seem to care a jot about the impending hardship these policies could possibly inflict on the citizens of the UK and its nearest neighbour, Ireland. With severe recession being the outcome in both countries.

Surely no right-thinking politician would wish to visit this devastating result on their people. Let us all hope common sense will prevail and the spirit of the former British prime minister, the late Winston Churchill, will once again save the day.

Tom Towey,

Cloonacool, Co Sligo

Sunday Independent

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