Late Late special under fire

ALMOST a year has passed since it was broadcast but RTÉ’s ‘The Late Late Show’ GAA special is still taking flak.

Aired as a tribute to the organisation at the start of its 125th anniversary celebrations, the show created a storm of controversy. The use of guests such as Brush Shiels, Bertie Ahern and Eamon Dunphy was pilloried while hurling was almost completely ignored.

“I will keep my analysis fairly short as it’s at the other end of the calendar year and time heals all wounds,” says Dublin secretary John Costello in his annual report for county convention.

“It was a major disappointment from our national broadcaster – the research must have been carried out on Wikipedia. It was not all bad though, especially towards the conclusion when Des Cahill emerged to resuscitate the programme. On the other end of the spectrum was TG4’s superb 10-part documentary series, which chronicled the social and cultural history of the GAA – an exceptional body of work from start to finish.”

Costello has written at length about the issue of sports funding ahead of the budget tomorrow. The Dublin official declared: “For the future well-being of the nation, we need to position sport and youth sports more centrally in the blueprint for our society.”

Costello also questioned the benefits accrued by sport from the National Lottery which has raised €3bn since its establishment in 1987 when the proceeds were originally earmarked for sports alone.

“At this stage I think it’s more than pertinent to ask ‘how much has Gaelic games in the capital benefited?’

“Some clubs received good assistance but, overall, we have been a poor relation. I’d rather the Lottery funded sports facilities than sponsor ‘Coronation Street’ or ‘Deal or No Deal’.”

Also mentioned was the government’s Sports Capital Programme, suspended in 2009 but which, according to Minister for Sport Martin Cullen, may well be reintroduced.

Said Costello: “While the Sports Capital Programme is suspended, where are the proceeds from the Lottery being allocated? In these bleak times, an increasing number of people are purchasing lottery tickets in the hope of escaping their humdrum existence and it is scandalous this money is being siphoned off to support other items of Government expenditure other than what it was intended for.

“Another condition of Sports Capital funding is that projects require approval from the department before work can commence. I am aware of a number of projects that have stalled because of this proviso, including our Centre of Excellence in Rathcoole, as it would be folly to progress and lose State funding. However, much of the spend on projects is recovered in VAT on materials and tax from employment by the Revenue Commissioners thus reducing unemployment payments by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Local authorities are also deprived of development levies.”


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