'I didn’t know he was going to go into politics, but I still like him' - John Giles backs Labour's Aodhan O’Riordan
Soccer legend John Giles didn’t know Aodhan O’Riordan was going to go into politics – but he still likes him.
The election candidate laughed along with everyone else at Giles’ little quip, as the duo formally launched the Labour Party’s sports policy yesterday in Marino on Dublin’s northside, outside O’Riordan’s constituency office.
When asked by a reporter why he decided to support Labour, Giles stressed that he was supporting O’Riordan.
“It goes back to when Aodhan was headmaster in Sheriff Street and he wasn’t involved in politics at that time,” the former Ireland player and manager said, referring to the Minister’s time at St Laurence O’Toole’s national school.
“So we go back a few years. I felt from the start that Aodhan was a good guy. And that I would support him. I think he did a great job in Sheriff Street, he was in a working class area, he was head school teacher there, and I liked him. And I didn’t know he was going to go into politics, but I still like him,” Giles said.
Back in 2006, O’Riordan was instrumental in having a plaque erected outside Giles’ old family home in Ormond Square, where he grew up before achieving sporting greatness in England.
People passing by did a double take when they saw Giles on the street yesterday, with one woman coming forward with a football to be signed, which he cheerfully obliged.
O’Riordan made sure to catch every ball kicked to him – no doubt mindful that his “safe pair of hands” message would go awry if he dropped the ball during a photo opportunity.
He said that one of the initiatives he has been involved in over the last five years is his Family Learning Through Football project, a pilot scheme rolled out in Edenmore, with the Football Association of Ireland, and also with support from Dublin City Council, “the idea being that football is a wonderful language that unites families together.”
“From the Labour point of view, we understand that sport is very important that it is more than just a pastime, it’s very much what people talk about and live for at the weekend and we want to be able to invest in it, but invest in it in a way that empowers.”
The party has pledged that if returned to Government, it will fund more world-class sporting facilities at the National Indoor Arena and National Sports campus, to give athletes the backing they deserve.
“Labour also acknowledges the growing role of sports tourism within our economy and will put a comprehensive sports tourism policy at the heart of our national sports policy,” he added.