Galway council calls on GAA to ensure games are ‘for all to see’

Council passes motion rejecting GAA deal with Sky or any other subscription service

Dublins James McCarthy and Mayo’s Aiden O’Shea during last Sunday’s All Ireland final in Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Dublins James McCarthy and Mayo’s Aiden O’Shea during last Sunday’s All Ireland final in Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

 

Galway Co Council has unanimously passed a motion calling on the GAA to return to its position of ensuring all championship Gaelic games were shown on terrestrial free-to-air channels “for all to see”.

The council urged the association to reverse its policy “of selling the exclusive broadcasting rights of Gaelic games to subscription viewing channels”.

The motion was discussed at the council’s monthly meeting on Monday. Proposed by Independent councillor and member of Tuam GAA club Shaun Cunniffe it was seconded by Athenry-Oranmore Independent councillor James Charity. Cllr Cunniffe is spokesman for the Keep Gaelic Games Free to Air group.

The motion pointed out that current GAA arrangement with Sky Sports was “especially hard for all those in hospitals, care homes, the elderly across rural Ireland, those with mobility issues, those in poor health, those on shift work and all those families who through limited financial means or other circumstances are unable to attend GAA fixtures but would love to watch their county teams.”

It said that “the people that built and sustain the GAA through selfless volunteerism are being excluded” and that, should the GAA not reverse this policy, “we will then call on the Minister for Communications . . . to designate all Gaelic Games as being free to air.”

Currently,just the hurling and football All-Ireland finals are designated “free to air”.

In a comment following last night’s vote, Cllr Cunniffe said he was now calling on the president of the GAA Aogán Ó Fearghaíl “to postpone all talks and any decision in relation to renewing the sale of exclusive broadcasting rights of GAA Championship Fixtures to Sky Sports or any other subscription network.”

He said “the message from all councillors across Galway county, many of whom are GAA members, is that the GAA have made a fundamental error with this broadcasting deal because it excludes hundreds of thousands of people from watching their national sports because they cannot afford Sky”.

“It is totally against the community ethos of the GAA. If the GAA do any research at all they will find this out, I suggest they start a review immediately.”