Saturday 18 November 2017

Wexford refs call off strike action as fears grow over GAA payment plans

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Wexford referees have suspended plans to strike due to new guidelines from Croke Park's discussions with the Revenue Commissioners over how much they get for taking charge of matches.

The Wexford referees met on Sunday night and opted to withdraw their services with immediate effect.

However, an intervention by county chairman Diarmuid Devereaux convinced them to put their action on hold until further clarity is received on how future payments will be made.

One Wexford official involved in the weekend decision to strike said it wasn't a course of action they ever wanted to take, but the proposals they have been made aware of won't be acceptable to them or to referees in many other counties.

Longford referees had a scheduled meeting last night and a position on the issue of payment/ expenses was also due to be taken there.

As a consequence of discussions the GAA have had with Revenue, a number of proposals are down for debate, but nothing has been set in stone yet.

proposal

The main proposal is that club refs would get €13.71, in accordance with civil service subsistence rates, and would be paid 50 cent per mile travelled after that.

For referees who travel shorter distances to games, that could represent a big shortfall on the €40 they have become accustomed to.

Some referees have pointed out that the €13.71 will be the entitlement for all officials, umpires and linesman, and that will lead to a significant imbalance.

Inter-county referees are not affected as they receive a 50 cent mileage allowance and a meal allowance worth up to €40.

But referees receive different rates from county to county. In Wexford an official can pocket up to €50 for a senior championship match and €40 for a league match.

A drain of referees has been predicted across the country if the new payment guidelines are put in place. "Many referees won't consider it worth their while if they are travelling short distances to games," one prominent referee told the Irish Independent.

There is a move to develop an association of GAA match officials, but Ulster president Aoghan Farrell used his convention speech over the weekend to challenge that development.

"What next, a county chairmen's association, a Gaelic lottery sellers' society, a score adjudicators' union?" Farrell asked.

"We have one GAA for all and that should be enough for us all. We must remain a coherent community of Gaels."

Irish Independent

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