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Hanafin slams Bonner exit

MINISTER for Tourism, Culture and Sport Mary Hanafin has expressed extreme disappointment at the FAI's decision to part company with technical director Packie Bonner.

The Donegal man's contract will not be renewed and he is the highest-profile casualty of the FAI's cost-cutting measures.

Hanafin was surprised by developments.

"I think Packie Bonner is a great role model," she said. "He was not only a wonderful player, but a very supportive, articulate man who was able to bring the sport to young people and children all over the country.

"He is a wonderful role model and I believe the FAI should find a role for him. I have mentioned this to (John Delaney), yes I have."

However, while FAI chief executive Delaney reiterated that, in an ideal world, Bonner would have stayed, he stood by the association's decisions with respect to cutting the wage bill.

"The board made a decision in terms of reducing our cost base for 2011," he said.

"Everyone would like to keep Packie and the other staff who have left. I would have loved to have kept all the staff, but it wasn't possible."

"A lot of good people are leaving the association and Packie did very good work for the FAI over the last eight years. That said, we have an international performance director in Wim Koevermans and we have a very good technical team, good unit managers and good development officers in almost every county."

Meanwhile, Hanafin expressed the opinion that the cuts for sport in next week's Budget are modest compared to other departments.

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"Every element of government has to take some reduction, but the total costs for my own department of tourism, culture and sport, the expenditure costs are going down by just €13m (less than 5pc), which I think you'll accept is fairly minimal in terms of the overall budgetary affairs."

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