FORMER Presidential candidate Seán Fogarty has warned the GAA is hurtling towards professionalism.
The Tipperary native has also questioned why Association President Christy Cooney is being paid while fulfilling the prestigious role, insisting the Cork native should be doing the job on a voluntary basis.
In a hard-hitting reaction to the discussion paper on payments to managers, released by Croke Park on Tuesday, Fogarty is warning of a potential doomsday scenario for the GAA if inter-county bosses are paid.
Fogarty, defeated by Cooney in the race for the presidency in 2008, believes remunerating top bosses would be the “second last step to a professional organisation,” with payment for players the last step in his view.
An irate Fogarty has also accused top brass at GAA HQ of “buying the silence” of the Gaelic Players Association by signing a deal last year that will see more than €8.5m pumped into the players’ body over a five-year period.
Fogarty said: “The Association is now on the last leg of the tripod and headed for a big fall, unless somebody steps back and shouts stop. There are three traditional pillars of Irish society — the church, the GAA and Fianna Fáil.
“Two of them have taken a battering and we could take a bigger fall than any. The GAA will fall asunder.
“We only hear from the grassroots one weekend of every year, at Congress.
“And the people that talk about the grassroots don’t mean a word of it.
“90% of people attending Congress will have very little involvement in their own club.
“They’re shouting about the grassroots but this is an organisation that can pay its president in an honorary position a healthy sum of money every week, with a car and private secretary. I think that’s terribly wrong. If you’re not willing to take an honorary job, don’t go for it.”
Fogarty, a former Tipperary county board and Munster Council chairman, added: “I’m so disillusioned. We (GAA) have lost our way in the past few years, on a number of issues. And giving €8.5m to buy the silence of the GPA... you’d hardly know they existed now but they’ll be back for more when the five-year term is up. It’s all doing away with funds that are badly needed at club level.”
Reflecting on the publication of GAA Director General Pauric Duffy’s 29-page document on payments to managers, Fogarty insisted that he would be “livid” if top bosses received financial rewards for their efforts.
He said: “I would be livid if they were paid. Whilst I know that they (managers) are looking for money themselves, I would be very disappointed with the amount of people they surround themselves with in backroom teams. Counties are not trying to win All-Irelands any more, they’re trying to buy them.”
Fogarty also revealed that he knows of managers that are being paid for their services — and added that they wouldn’t be involved in the game if there was no financial reward.
He revealed: “In some counties, it is happening, yes. There’s is no comparison now between the GAA that I joined all those years ago and the GAA now. We now have a two-tier organisation. Our strong point was the parish identity, the love and pride of the parish. But we’ve gone away from that. You’ll still have the big Congress in Portlaoise in the month of April but you’ll hear the same amount of bullshit and you’ll still have the same lads in every country club, hammering away and swimming against the tide. We need to step back, realise who we are and what we represent.”
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