Saturday 21 April 2018

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy explains the role Bertie Ahern's governments played in the development of the Dublin juggernaut

Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been blamed for the recession, among other things.

But now his real “misdeed” emerges - in the eyes of some GAA fans at least.

The ex-Fianna Fáil leader was handed credit for the ongoing rise of the Dubs.

GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy said on Wednesday that funding was ring-fenced for GAA clubs in the capital during previous governments - but that this is no longer the case.

Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Duffy specifically cited Mr Ahern, the former Fianna Fáil leader, as being in office during a time when significant funding was channelled to clubs in Dublin.

“Just on the issue of funding, and the funding for Dublin, that you referred to specifically. That money originally, when it was allocated to the GAA, was allocated specifically for Dublin, for the development of hurling and football, it was when Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach. And to be fair, it has been really successful in terms of broadening the participation of the games in Dublin,” Mr Duffy said.

“Now... the funding we all get, from Sport Ireland or from government is much less than it used to be. We understand why that is, because of the recession and so on. And it is not ringfenced, it is up to us how it is used,” he added.

Mr Duffy told TDs and senators that there will be a reduction in the funding going to Dublin so as to fund GAA elsewhere.

Separately, Mr Duffy said his organisation has been “hammered” because some people could not see games abroad.

But he said this is no longer the case and that games are now available for fans living in the likes of the US, Australia and the UK.

Mr Duffy said the GAA now has 330 coaches across Ireland, adding that its commercial revenue is vital to fund this area.

On the issue of drugs, Mr Duffy said the GAA has an excellent record in terms of complying with requirements laid down by oversight bodies.

Mr Duffy, however, expressed concern about the issue of concussion at local level.

He said that at national level, all sporting organisations do “pretty well”.

But he said at games that are not attended by a doctor - such at youth and local level - the issue is one of concern.

“If you have any doubt at all, you must take the player out.”

Later on during the hearing, Mr Duffy ruled out the prospect of staging another U2 concert at Croke Park.

Mr Duffy said there will be three concerts in 2017, with U2 and Coldplay due to take to the stage one night each.

He joked that the third slot, if filled, won’t be handed to Garth Brooks.

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