Government ‘may insist on access to State-funded sports grounds’
Ross hopeful GAA, Liam Miller tribute match organisers will reach agreement on venue
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross in a canoe being launched by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin at launch of the National Sports Policy. Also pictured are Angel O’Toole and Evan Brazil, both 11.
The Government will have to insist that clubs receiving State funding make their facilities available when not in use by the organisations themselves, Minister for Sport Shane Ross has said.
The Minister said he hoped the GAA and the organisers of the Liam Miller tribute match “come to an agreement very, very shortly” about the venue for the event to raise funds for the family of the late former Ireland international.
And he added that the Government would “like to see a recognition that the community have a role to play”.
“It is most important that when we launch large infrastructural funds that those who receive funds make commitments that the community will have access to something which is subsidised by State money to such a great extent.
“That is something which we will have to insist upon,” he said.
The Minister was talking to reporters at the launch on Wednesday at St Laurence O’Toole Recreation Centre, Sherriff Street, Dublin of the Government’s national sports policy 2018-2027.
In the row about the venue for the fundraising match, talks lasting almost two hours took place on Tuesday between the GAA and the organisers of the game. The association agreed to further consider a proposal that the match be held at the €80 million newly re-developed Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, to which the State contributed €30 million.
The aim of the match is to raise funds for the family of the former Ireland international soccer player from Ovens in Co Cork, who died this year from oesophageal cancer, aged 36.
The match will be between a Manchester United Legends XI managed by Roy Keane and a Glasgow Celtic/Republic of Ireland combination team.
The GAA said it was prohibited under its rules from hosting games other than those under its control in its stadiums and grounds, and that this could only be changed by GAA Congress in February.
Asked if the GAA would have to amend its rule book to get future funding, Mr Ross said: “I don’t really want to comment on that particularly but I think the principle should be adhered to that large stadiums should be available to the community when they’re not being used by those who have first call on it.”
He added that he and Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin “have been in touch with the GAA in the last few days and we have encouraged them to come to an early settlement.
“And Minister Griffin was encouraging them over the weekend as well. We welcome the fact that they’re talking and hope to see an amicable solution but we would like to see a recognition that the community has a role to play.”
Asked if future funding would be dependent on facilities, the Minister said “it will be a very, very important factor, a significant factor in giving future funding that the facilities will be used for the benefit of the community as well as those who get the funding”.
He said it was “very important to us that clubs of any sort or size get grants that they share them with the community and that applies to clubs large or small”.