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Longford GAA refs vote to strike over new payment proposals

The controversial new proposals could see officials receive less than €20 for refereeing a club game.

Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

LONGFORD’S REFEREE COORDINATOR warned today that the integrity of the entire GAA could be at stake if a row over payments to match officials is not resolved.

A meeting of the county’s referees voted overwhelmingly to go on strike last night in protest over new proposals which could see them receive less than €20 for refereeing a club game.

The move to standardise payments comes following discussions between the GAA and Revenue Commissioners. One of the proposals being considered would see match officials paid a flat rate of €13.71 for subsistence plus 50 cents a mile in travel expenses, considerably less than the €40 which many receive at present.

Speaking to RTÉ Morning Ireland this morning, referee coordinator Joe O’Brien said that the small size of Longford county would leave officials even more out of pocket than some of their colleagues around the country.

“It’s a very, very small county and most of the referees are centrally-based,” O’Brien said.

In the case of quite a few of the referees, they wouldn’t even reach the €20 mark in Longford for it, and that would be half of what they were getting. They were getting €40 for the last couple of years.

The new proposals could tempt match officials to exaggerate mileage by claiming that they had travelled extra distance to collect an umpire before the game, O’Brien added.

“I have a huge issue with that because it brings the integrity of a referee into question and that’s not a road that I would like to see the referees having to go down or going down.

“You couldn’t have that because if you go further down the line, [what happens] if there’s an objection to a guy or an appeal against a guy being sent off?

This is what I’m saying about the integrity of it, the whole thing falls down. The whole structure of the GAA will fall down around it unfortunately.

Referees in Wexford also voted to strike after discussing the new guidelines on Sunday evening, the Irish Independent reports. But following a meeting with county chairman Darren Devereaux, they agreed to postpone the action until the proposals are clarified.

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Niall Kelly

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