Tax exemptions for GAA players and other sports-people have been mooted by newly promoted minister of state for tourism and sports Brendan Griffin, writes Juno McEnroe.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, the Kerry TD added that he would like to see well-known diaspora figures made sports ambassadors to encourage visitors to come here.
The Fine Gael minister was promoted from the backbenches last month and has plans to boost the tourism sector, support sports players, and help businesses in rural Ireland.
There has been much debate about whether GAA players should get paid, with concerns that amateur athletes on teams are subject to the same pressures and standards as paid professionals.
Players often put careers on hold, get seriously injured, or face burnout, and there has been debate about endorsements and the belief that at the top level, the game is already professional in everything bar the name. Mr Griffin is open to the idea of players being paid.
“I would like to see players being rewarded for what they do and players being able to give more time to their circles,” he said. “They are elite sports people in an amateur sport.
“What you hate to see maybe are the fringe players not being able to continue with what they love because the commitments are just financially damaging to themselves and that is a real challenge.
“In some cases, artists have tax exemptions, so can we do something more for our sports people along those lines? These are the things I would like to explore at the moment and I would like to see looked at, to make things a bit easier to help those excelling in sport. It is something I have discussed with my own officials.”
Mr Griffin also hopes the government will target well-known sports figures to be appointed sports ambassadors.
“We have so many high profile sports people, particularly with social media with massive numbers of followers,” he said. “I think they could be excellent ambassadors for Irish tourism.”
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.