THE Gaelic Players Association (GPA) has stepped into the Lisbon Treaty debate, calling on its members to vote in favour of the treaty in Friday’s referendum to help elevate the status of sport within the EU.
Dessie Farrell, chief executive of the player organisation, said yesterday that voting Yes would be in the “best interests” of inter-county hurlers and footballers.
“Given that the status of sport with the European Commission is set to be enhanced if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, we believe it is in the best interest of our members that the Treaty is passed,” said Farrell. “This would be good for sport in Ireland in general, but particularly good for our members.”
The GPA intervention follows news that it has joined EU Athletes, a federation of independent athlete and player associations from all over Europe with member associations from 15 European countries representing over 25,000 professional and amateur athletes.
The GPA believes the move will enable it to bring the issues affecting amateur inter-county hurlers and footballers to the European stage and, in particular, to the attention of the European Commission.
Said Farrell: “Strengthening relations with our counterparts in Europe is a really important step for the GPA as it allows us to examine the specific issues relating to inter-county players in a broader context.”
Labour MEP for Ireland South Alan Kelly welcomed the GPA’s call for its members to vote ‘yes’ on Friday.
“Supporting the Lisbon Treaty makes a great deal of sense from the GPA point of view,’’ he said. “Under Lisbon, a supporting EU competence for sport will be created to encourage the exchange of knowledge and expertise relating to good sporting practice. This will be of great benefit to sport in Ireland, and Gaelic games in particular.”
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