'All-Ireland finals must remain free-to-air for viewers', says Communications Minister
All-Ireland finals are "sacrosanct" and should stay on free-to-air TV, Communications Minister Denis Naughten has said.
Mr Naughten made the remarks after announcing that the ladies' football and camogie finals have joined the men's football and hurling All-Ireland finals on the list of designated major sporting events that must be available for broadcast on free-to-air TV.
The GAA's deal with Sky - which sees some matches broadcast exclusively on the subscription channel - was criticised last month by RTÉ hurling pundit Michael Duignan. He questioned why his 83-year-old father should have to go to a pub to watch games which are shown only on Sky.
Mr Naughten said that All-Ireland finals across the men's and women's games should "absolutely" remain free-to-air in the future.
"I believe that they are sacrosanct because they are so uniquely Irish," he said. "I think it is important that those games are designated and remain free-to-air right into the future," Mr Naughten added.
However, he also defended the GAA's arrangement with Sky in the wake of Mr Duignan's criticism, saying: "The reality is that if we are going to maintain activity and investment in our sports then we need to see funding coming into it".
Mr Naughten said that there's a "balancing act" between generating funding and the need to provide free access to the sports on TV.
He said it's a "difficult challenge" and that it's "important that as many of those sports and games are free-to-air as possible".
Camogie Association president Catherine Neary said the inclusion of women's Gaelic games on the designated list of major events is important as it acknowledges that "women's sport is of equal value to our male counterparts".