A major document released last night asserted that the Association’s heartland lies in rural Ireland, yet it is being denied a fair allocation of financial investment.
“The vast bulk of public investment and infrastructure is already allocated to metropolitan Ireland so the GAA needs to reverse its strategy here, work to redress chronic imbalances and refocus on its GAA heartlands,” says the document, Ag Ardú Níos Airde Arís na Laimhe Deirge.
The county’s five-year plan, launched at Garvaghey, criticises the prioritising of “metropolitan Ireland” in the distribution of GAA funding.
Dublin is the major benefactor, followed by Cork, while a £1m award was made to Belfast GAA last week.
“Tyrone, with others, is increasingly concerned at the prioritizing of ‘metropolitan Ireland’ for GAA investment, something which can happen only at a cost to ‘nonmetropolitan Ireland’.
“Rural Ireland (which includes Tyrone’s towns) has always been and remains the GAA’s key driver and already suffers gravely from service withdrawal, lack of opportunities, growing planning controls and debilitating emigration.”
The Tyrone plan also criticises a lack of support from the government for the activities of the GAA.
“Clubs deliver where the government has failed to deliver yet are, bizarrely, charged rates on the facilities they have saved the government from providing. This must be reversed with clubs instead supported financially for what they do.
Despite its unequalled contribution to the community good, Tyrone GAA at club and county levels is levied with very significant rates.
“This taxing of local communities for doing the state’s work for it is unfair, is unsustainable and needs to be changed. The club is the key, even the only building block within the GAA.
"Tyrone’s clubs are strong and have developed largely self-funded facilities that are second to none. In most cases, local GAA facilities are the dominant/only community hub in their areas/communities.”
Tyrone will “lobby the GAA and other authorities to prioritise and invest appropriately in rural Tyrone”.