Gathering naysayers urged to cut the criticism

The man behind a major sports event in Cork for The Gathering hit out at Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary last night, pleading with him to “cut out the negative bullshit” about the initiative.

James O’Reilly, chairman of the World Mini Games, set to take place in Cork next August, urged O’Leary to “to cough up or shut up”. He also urged Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar not to engage in any more spats with the airline chief.

Mr O’Reilly spoke out yesterday after Mr O’Leary dubbed the Government initiative as “The Grabbing”.

O’Leary told an aviation conference that while he thought The Gathering was a good idea in principle, he criticised the Dublin Airport Authority’s plans to increase its charges, slated hikes in bus and rail fares, and attacked the Government’s tourism figures, unions and business groups.

Mr O’Reilly said he was furious that the work of thousands of Irish people planning Gathering events was “disparaged so outrageously”: “We have been working tirelessly to develop a hugely positive and exciting event that will deliver greatly for The Gathering initiative.

“And our efforts are being mirrored by thousands of others around the country, mostly volunteers, who are tired of all the doom and gloom, who are mobilising to do some something positive and optimistic for our villages, our communities, our towns, our regions and our bloody country.”

Mr O’Reilly, who staged a major sports festival in Ballincollig, Co Cork, last summer, is planning to expand it into what he’s called the World Mini Games, from Aug 22-25 next.

Criticising Mr Varadkar’s spat with O’Leary, he said: “It’s going to be a lot harder to keep the troops motivated the more rubbish they hear from the likes of Gabriel Byrne and O’Leary.

“We will continue to work our butts off to deliver an amazing event for Cork, as no doubt will all the other projects, but for the love of God, let’s work together and cut out the negative bullshit.

“So Mr O’Leary and Minister Varadkar, this time it’s not about you, it’s about us.”


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