Tuesday 20 March 2018

Have your say

Masterson's right to his point of view

The threat of the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) to impose a two-month suspension on Wexford goalkeeper Anthony Masterson over his post- match comments about referee Derek Fahy after the All-Ireland SF qualifier in Portlaoise last month has in my opinion to be considered in the light of the Irish Constitution's provision of the State's guarantee of Freedom of Expression for all its citizens.

The relevant article of the Constitution, being Article 40.6.1.i clearly states that, "The State guarantees liberty for the exercise, subject to public order and morality, of (i) The right of the citizen to express freely their convictions and opinions. The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious of indecent matter however is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law."

It is generally accepted that Masterson's post-match comments about the referee amounted to his own opinion or conviction and the question must be asked as to whether or not he was not fully entitled to make them, in light of the terms of the Constitution, guaranteeing him the right to such freedom of expression of his opinion or conviction, as an Irish citizen, which presumably he is.

By no stretch of the imagination could what he said be regarded as breaching public order or morality or being blasphemous, seditious or indecent. Therefore, was the GAA not infringing his constitutional rights, guaranteed to him under the Constitution, by threatening to impose on him a two-month suspension, unless he withdrew his comments, which amount to his opinion/conviction, and offered an apology.

The further section of the Constitution under this Article of 'Freedom of Expression' goes on to state that, "The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of State".

In light of this additional section, the question has further to be asked that if the State recognises the right of citizens to criticise Government policy under 'Freedom of Expression', why should the policy of the GAA restraining players criticising the performance of match officials be exempt?

It might be argued that in the UK soccer managers in particular are regularly hauled before the FA authorities for critical comments made after games about officials and heavily fined and/or banned. However, there is no similar guarantee of freedom of expression provided for there, so such managers have to take their medicine and move on, without question.

James Healy

Airtricity League left out in the cold

the lack of coverage the Airtricity League receives in your paper is disgraceful. Last week You didn't show the league tables, despite showing the Championship, League 1, League Two of the English League, the Scottish Premiership and Division 1, 2, and 3, the Irish Premier and the European results and fixtures. There is no mention of the Airtricity League, apart from some negative comments on the back page regarding their European competition.

How can we expect soccer supporters, particularly the young, who might consider reading your paper, to take notice of League of Ireland football, when a national newspaper does not consider this worthy of coverage? I ask the Sport Editor to reconsider and afford some prominent space to the Airtricity League of Ireland.

Dessie Robinson

Rules are pushed to breaking point

F O'Reilly's letter [July 17] has encouraged me to add my comments. I have derived great pleasure since the early 1940s from watching Gaelic games -- mainly hurling -- in Croke Park, Thurles, Limerick etc but get very little enjoyment from many modern games and frequently switch off the TV on which I now rely.

Two ways of unleashing the potential of our games would be the stricter enforcement of the four-step rule, which allows a player to legitimately rob his opponent who has to play the ball, and the penalising, within reason, of hand and hurley contact.

In the past 10/15 years we have seen the shoving away of opponents trying to rise the ball, the strangling or striking of an opponent's hand under the dropping ball, the cynical tap on an opponent's ball-carrying hand, the semi-striking with the hurley of an opponent going away from you, the penalising of defenders rather the ball-carrying charging forward and the non-penalising of some frontal charges.

It is easy to be condemnatory, but were I good enough I would genuinely prefer to be a member of the present Kildare team, who have striven so manfully, rather than the wonderfully talented Kerry and Kilkenny teams.

To finish on a joyful note, the recent Tipp/Cork under 21 match in Thurles was a wonderful spectacle. Well done to both teams and to referee Wadding for restoring some of my faith.

W Cleary

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