GAA to clamp down on referendum canvassing

Mickey Harte, Tyrone manager.

The GAA are expected to ensure there is no promotion of either side ahead of the Eighth Amendment referendum at any of next month’s Championship games.

Security and stewards are set to keep a watchful eye on what items supporters are bringing with them to the matches, particularly those that will be televised, so that no political campaigning can be done in stadiums when the provincial championships begin in earnest on May 12 - 13 days before the abortion vote.

Croke Park yesterday followed on from GAA president John Horan’s plan to write to counties this week reminding them not to have any involvement in campaigning ahead of next month’s Eighth Amendment referendum with the release of a statement.

After Mickey Harte and Joe Sheridan were among those in attendance at a “no” press launch close to a GAA grounds in Dublin, it was revealed Horan would issue correspondence to county secretaries about their responsibilities.

Following much media interest, Croke Park’s communication office yesterday released a statement: “The GAA is a non-party organisation whose individual members may, of course, decide to take positions on political issues in accordance with their own personal views and commitments. As an Association, however, the GAA does not take a position, or comment in any way, on either elections or referenda.”

In the past, Palestine flags have also been removed from GAA grounds, while three years ago top inter-county football referee David Gough was denied permission to wear a rainbow wristband to show his support for a yes vote in the marriage referendum.

Croke Park stated at the time: “Any member is allowed to have their own political views or opinions outside but Croke Park is not the place to make political gestures.”

Meanwhile, the Club Players Association’s recent survey of its members has revealed that 58% of club players have not received a masters fixtures list for 2018. Almost 4,000 club footballers and hurlers responded to a questionnaire which asked them if such a plan was in place.

Over 72% of club players expressed unhappiness with the manner in which their club fixtures are organised in their county, although over 56% of respondents felt April had been successfully designated as a club month. Almost 90% felt that there should be no overlap between the club, county and college seasons.

As they prepare to meet new GAA director general Tom Ryan this week, CPA Micheál Briody reacted to the survey findings: “We are releasing the latest survey results in their entirety in the interests of transparency before we engage with the new Director General and his team. We will also publish them on our website and through social media so anyone that wants to can view them.

“The responses would confirm the anecdotal evidence we have had among members and from e-mail feedback relating to continued issues around fixtures; the absence of master fixtures plan; differing approaches and attitudes to April in the absence of any enforcement measures and the need for more clearly designated periods for club, county and college competition.”

He continued: “The responses show that as an Association we are still failing to provide the most basic requirements for our members: a programme of regular meaningful games.”

Although 67% of respondents seemed to vote for the CPA escalating their actions — having had their voting transparency proposal shot down in Congress — the CPA acknowledged the representation wasn’t admissible due to a poorly-worded question.

“The CPA have tested the systems of GAA democracy over the past 18 months culminating with our transparency motion at Congress. “Are you satisfied with the continuation of this process or is it time to escalate the situation and go a different route?”

Briody acknowledged: “We asked our members for their views on escalating the CPA response and going a different route in the light of our experiences with Congress. This question elicited 499 written responses expressing frustration, anger and annoyance. The question was not sufficiently clearly worded on our behalf and that attracted some criticism from around 25 people. We accept that criticism.”

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