GAA blasts ‘underhand’ move on players

THE GAELIC Players Association has reacted angrily to “underhand” moves by GAA chiefs to lure players into a new official players’ body.

GPA president Dessie Farrell claimed yesterday that county boards have approached players to go forward for election to a proposed official players group, blasting: "The emergence of a selection strategy that can only be described as wholly undemocratic and underhand is further evidence that the GAA's efforts to undermine the GPA's status with a newly appointed players' body is ill-conceived.

"We have sought and received assurances from player squads that co-operation will not be forthcoming for the proposed Croke Park controlled body, so it is not possible to bestow any credibility whatsoever on this entity."

Farrell said that the plan for an elected group by GAA president Sean Kelly was flawed and the original depiction of how this 'democratic' procedure was to be carried out is inaccurate and misleading.

"Far from being democratic, individual players are being targeted for nomination by county board officers without consultation with other panellists. Our members have confirmed such approaches to us."

Mr Kelly plans a players body, elected by their peers, claiming it "effectively empowers players in the most democratic way possible".

But Farrell insisted: "To claim that a haphazardly assembled committee with a Croke Park appointed chairman is democratic is misleading. There is democracy and there is GAA democracy, and the players have no desire to amalgamate with a system that has all too often and very publicly imploded on the bigger issues.

"If the SRC's high-profile proposals are dismissed by Congress, what chance has an undemocratic, Croke Park controlled players' body presided over by a Croke Park appointed chairman without a mandate from those it seeks to represent?

"This proposed new committee cannot and will not represent all players despite Seán Kelly's assertions. 1200 GPA members have vetoed it democratically through a motion passed at the GPA's 2003 AGM in January, before Seán Kelly's tenure, yet the GAA sees fit to impose its will on these players."

He added that the 'increased channels of communication the President refers to are redundant in the absence of genuine intent in the area of player welfare, of which compelling evidence would be hard found.

"From a player's perspective, there is simply no basis or logic to support the GAA's proposal.

"In contrast, the GPA has flourished through three very different presidential terms, we have a longer term strategy that will ultimately provoke positive change for the association, and we have the resources and ability to affect that change.

"Croke Park controlled players' bodies assembled at the whim of the incumbent president may provide short term respite for the GAA, but such entities are undemocratic, unwelcome to players and ineffective.

"It is inconceivable to players that the improvements in player welfare we have enjoyed since the inception of the GPA can be attributable to anything other than the emergence of our own democratic players' association."

Farrell acknowledged that the new Association President has put players welfare high on his agenda but he stated that the creation of a second players' body would be "bureaucratic fudging" of the worst kind.

Meanwhile, Dublin Corporation has granted planning permission to the GAA to build a 225-bedroom hotel near Croke Park.

The GAA applied for permission to build the four-star hotel in May on the site at Collier's Kitchen an industrial estate off Jones's Road near the main entrance to the Hogan Stand.

The hotel will include a bar and restaurant, as well as parking facilities for 220 cars. The Council ruled that the development must not include a nightclub. It also told the GAA that it will have to make a separate application for a proposed footbridge between the hotel and Croke Park.

The Council said it had received around 200 objections to the plans.

Many residents, who live near Croke Park, said they had expected further consultations with the GAA and some said they intended to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála. They now have four weeks in which to lodge an appeal.

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