GAA clubs and members are not “immune” from the cocaine culture that has swept through all areas of Irish society, Leinster GAA chairman Pat Teehan has said.
The Offaly man, delivering his address to this week’s online Leinster GAA convention, added that the Association must play its part in driving awareness around the dangers of recreational drugs that have become so prevalent in modern society.
“Unfortunately, in recent years, the use of so-called recreational drugs, and, in particular, cocaine, has become prevalent across all areas of society, from the smallest rural village to the largest urban area,” said Teehan.
“While it would be over-dramatic to say it is an epidemic, it is nonetheless a very concerning situation and GAA players and members are certainly not immune from this culture.
“As the largest voluntary sporting organisation in the country and embedded in every community, all GAA units should play our part in creating awareness among our young people to the dangers of becoming involved in this habit.
“We can become part of the solution to this problem by engaging with the professionals in Government agencies and other community organisations to support and highlight the dangers of drug use, not just from a physical health viewpoint but also the long-term mental effects and the devastating effect drug use can have on an individual’s family.”
In his address, Teehan also welcomed the more than doubling (from 44 to 99) of the number of full-time coaches in the province outside Dublin since 2015.
“This number will continue to grow as we recruit staff for Carlow, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford and Kilkenny – counties that were not part of previous projects,” he explained.
“I would also point out that analysis of the GPO (games promotion officer) model across the province has shown that in the appropriate clubs, participation rates have increased and contrary to what might be believed, the number of volunteers willing to assist has also increased.”
On inter-county football fixture reform, Teehan feels further change is “inevitable”.
And he reiterated his belief that the Official Guide must be simplified to be able to adapt quicker to change.