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GAA/GPA player grants scheme facing potential cuts

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring revealed yesterday that he is anxious for a new deal to brokered to assist inter-county stars.

The Kilkenny and Galway teams before this year's All-Ireland final.
The Kilkenny and Galway teams before this year's All-Ireland final.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

INTERCOUNTY GAA player grants could be facing potential cuts in next month’s Budget.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring revealed yesterday that he is anxious to see a new three-year deal brokered with the GPA but due to funding reductions he did hint that the Government-backed scheme may have to be revamped.

The money available to the player grants scheme has been cut by 73% in recent years from a total of €3.5m to €1.01m. GPA officials have insisted that they understand that cuts were inevitable due to the current economic climate.

But at the GPA AGM last month, there were calls made for the Government to ‘maintain funding at its current level in order to protect the principle of the Schemes and to continue to recognise the unique status of the amateur inter-county player in the world of Irish sport’.

It is understood that GAA players are set to be paid their grant over the next two months for the 2012 season yet after that the future of the scheme is uncertain.

Speaking at the ‘National Awards to Volunteers in Irish Sport’ in the Aviva Stadium yesterday, Minister Ring outlined how talks were currently underway between officials from his Department and the Irish Sports Council and their counterparts in the GPA.

“What I’ve asked my officials to do and what I’ve asked the Sports Council to do is sit down with Dessie Farrell and his team, and to talk to them. The three year scheme is up and now we’re looking at what way we can bring it forward.

“Because of the economic situation, we don’t have the funding that we had before. A decision has to be made whether we’re going to continue with it or not. I’m anxious for it to continue. I’m also anxious that if we do a deal we do it for three years.”

“It’s not simple now. It’s very serious economic times. The budget as you know has been cut 5% last year, 5% this year and 5% next year so it won’t be the same money that was there.”

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“At the same time, there’s a recognition there that the job they do is a good job. I’d like to be able to support them. I want to see what proposals and agreement we can get.”

Minister Ring was keen to point out the improved relations between the GAA and GPA.

“The GAA (and the GPA) over the years, there was differences there between them. They have sorted them out and they’re working together.

“Since that particular original scheme was put in place, a lot of things have happened with the GAA and everything else. A lot of other things have been put in place by the GAA. I know the GAA have actually put up funding to assist them and help them along the way.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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