Cooney confident of resolving ref pay debate

GAA president Christy Cooney revealed Croke Park bosses will meet with the Revenue Commissioners this week to resolve issues relating to referee expenses.

Cooney, speaking at the launch of the National Hurling and Camogie Development Centre at Carriganore, Waterford, yesterday, also said he has been inundated with letters from parents following violent incidents in high profile games this season.

Referees are anxiously waiting what the Revenue will recommend as they turn their attention to match fees.

While the GAA finance department have informed county boards of a new €13.71 per game rate for referees with a 50c per mile mileage, a Croke Park statement last week said the previous fee arrangements would remain until further discussions with the Revenue.

Cooney said: “Our people will be meeting Revenue this week to have a discussion with them and I believe a satisfactory solution will be found. In some respects I think it’s got legs and we were only starting the process.

“We hadn’t met all counties on some of the issues around it but we will meet Revenue. I believe it will be resolved in a satisfactory way and, as I said already, it’s not a payment to referees. It’s about out-of-pocket expenses for people travelling and taking the time to do it and please God very shortly we’ll have a solution that is satisfactory to everyone.”

Cooney doesn’t feel the GAA was “targeted” compared to other sporting bodies.

“There was no question of us being targeted. We had a number of issues with gate men and all that type of situation so it was a question of sitting down with Revenue and finding the sensible way forward for everybody. It was never a question of Revenue targeting anybody.

“It’s a question of overcoming some issues that were there to be resolved and trying and move it forward in a positive direction for everybody.

“We have a responsibility, the same as everybody else, to obey the rules and regulations that are there within the land.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t do that but at the same time be fair to everybody.”

Cooney was unsure whether a referees’ representative body was needed: “We are structured in that way already in that we have a national referees body, we have provincial bodies, we have county referees bodies and what I would say to referees, if they have issues, there’s a process for them to go through and the structure is there to deal with that so I’m not sure it’s necessary to set up any other bodies.”

Meanwhile Cooney has described Eamonn McEneaney’s comments that Dublin would be treated differently by the Association’s disciplinary committees as “very unfair”.

McEneaney was speaking in relation to Monaghan’s loss of home advantage in the Allianz Football League as punishment for a row earlier this year with Kildare, but Cooney defended the GAA’s disciplinary procedures.

“I think that kind of comment is very unfair knowing the people, the likes of Liam Keane (Disputes Resolution Authority) and Simon Moroney (Central Appeals Committee) who are involved. They have led both their committees with total impartiality over the last three years. Nobody could accuse them of victimising anybody in any way or treating anybody any different and I think that comment is very unfair.”

Cooney hopes that such sanctions will result in an improvement in discipline across all levels of the GAA.

“There’s a bigger situation than this. We need to get rid of this all-in situation in hurling and football matches. We all know what happened in the club semi-final, we know what happened in the two other games.

“It’s not satisfactory and I’ve expressed this opinion already and county boards have to take responsibility for the team’s actions.

“I said this at the Munster Convention last Friday night around discipline, that they have to impress on the team management and their players their responsibilities on the field of play and particularly about the actions they would take but also the impact that it creates for the Association externally and the image of our Association and that’s crucially important.

“I could tell you the amount of letters that I’ve got in the last couple of weeks from parents commenting about this type of behaviour. It’s not acceptable and we have to ensure it’s stopped.

“Anybody can argue whether the course of action is the right course of action or not, people will have their own view about that, but irrespective of the decisions that we made by hearings, counties have to take this in hand and ensure that it doesn’t happen in future. There’s no need for it.”


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