He said yesterday that any future consideration of Rule 42, which governs the use of headquarters, must be considered in the context of the country’s “broad sporting community”.
As GAA chiefs welcomed a UEFA delegation to Croke Park yesterday, the next president of the association denied that his views were at odds with the present administration or represented a shift in policy at executive level.
However, Mr Kelly said he would be concerned at the impression abroad that the minds and doors of the GAA are firmly closed to other sports.
I certainly see the issue back on the agenda at Congress. But next time it would have to be part of a detailed package, and not as an isolated motion. Issues such as precise FAI or IRFU requirements, the net financial gain for the GAA, what the extra resources accruing would be spent on and a built-in clause that Croke Park be treated as an isolated case, would have to be agreed before the motion could be entertained again,” he said.
Mr Kelly takes over from Sean McCague next April, and said his attitude has not changed since was elected. He said he would not be surprised if the Rule 42 question was back on next year’s Congress agenda, but felt that at present the controversy was being debated “in a vacuum”.
“There needs to be recognition of the GAA’s traditions but also of the sporting environment in which we exist. I think the attitude amongst rank and file GAA members lies somewhere between the two decisions on Rule 42 at recent Congresses. This year’s vote was heavily defeated, but it was in the context of concerns about the pitch, concerns from local residents and the fact that a general election campaign was underway in everything but name at the time.”
Mr Kelly said he shared the view that Croke Park was a showpiece stadium, one of the finest in Europe, and a venue under-employed for more than half the year.
The Kerryman also praised the Government for its considerable support to the GAA, and said he and other GAA officials recognised the present dilemma over Exchequer cutbacks. However, he warned that the last thing anyone needed in such a fraught environment were threats.
“In that scenario, the first inclination will be to dig your heels in, and nobody benefits from that. The GAA, with £3 billion worth of property developed for the good of the community, owes nothing.”
Meanwhile Mick O’Dwyer was unanimously ratified last night as the new manager of the Laois footballers. 66-year-old O’Dwyer was formally appointed by a unanimous County Board vote in Portlaoise for a two year term.
Said O’Dwyer: “I’ve been given a two year term, so we’ll see how it goes. I suppose it would be unrealistic to expect too much in a year, but I’m really enthusiastic about the new season.