Monday 20 January 2020

GAA warned about State funding after Liam Miller match fiasco

Kevin Doyle and Ralph Riegel

Funding for future developments by the GAA is now under threat unless the organisation lifts its ban on 'foreign' sports being played in its facilities.

Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin bluntly warned the controversy over the Liam Miller tribute match in Cork has exposed a need to tighten State funding rules.

He said the €30m in taxpayers' money given to the GAA for the €70m redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh was subject to a belief the facility would be made available for community events.

Mr Griffin said there was a widespread view that the refusal of the GAA to sanction use of the new stadium for the fundraising soccer match goes against the spirit of the deal.

He said there was a need to "copper-fasten" the rules ahead of future payouts under the large-scale sporting infrastructure fund to ensure "projects which are financed by the people of Ireland are not exclusive".

"That's something I'd be very keen to ensure is one of the key headlines of the scheme," he said.

Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Shane Ross said: "I think it is most important when we launch the large infrastructure funds that those who receive it make commitments that the community will have access to something which is subsidised by State money.

"That's something we'll have to insist upon."

Mr Griffin said his belief was that "it hasn't been the GAA's finest hour".

The warning came as the GAA is examining face-saving compromises whereby a Gaelic games involvement around the Liam Miller memorial soccer match would allow it to be staged in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Croke Park chiefs are considering a number of options following two hours of talks on Tuesday with organisers of the special September 25 soccer match planned to raise funds for Mr Miller's wife and three children.

Liam Miller, 36, a former Cork, Celtic, Manchester United and Ireland player, died last February after a battle with cancer. He was a keen juvenile GAA player. However, an initial request to stage the soccer match at the 45,000 capacity GAA ground was refused.

Compromise proposals to now allow the Cork GAA grounds to be used have ranged from a juvenile GAA skills exhibition involving Mr Miller's old Éire Óg club, to a Cork and provincial hurling all-stars challenge before the main feature, an Ireland XI and Manchester United XI soccer match.

Another proposal is that some of the stars taking part, including Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, participate in a Gaelic games skills challenge.

Irish Independent

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