Sunday, 5 October 2008

GAA, the Belfast Hilton and discrimination

Irish history is full of martyrs. Nothing will make a patriot bristle with dewy-eyed pride as much as tales of death, glory and the odd blood sacrifice - and the more bloody and futile, the better.

Alas, with the outbreak of peace, it seems that the put-upon-victim has taken the martyr's place. Witness the following story on the excellent Irland Inside blog

The piece (in German, with a link to the RTE report) tells of a disgruntled guest who is suing the Belfast Hilton hotel for showing the Chelsea v Manchester United match in preference to the GAA all-Ireland final in Croke Park. The GAA fan is suing for "discrimination", claiming the choice was an affront to his "dignity" and "national identity".

Funny. Is this man a supporter of the same GAA that banned "foreign" games from its largely taxpayer-funded main stadium, until it came under political pressure? The same GAA that banned members of "the security forces" from joining its enlightened ranks? The same GAA that forbade its own followers from playing soccer, on pain of expulsion? The same GAA that is thwarting Shamrock Rovers' attempts to open a modest stadium in Tallaght? Well, indeed it is!

Discrimination. Sure GAA fans should know that when they see it.

Back to Gombeen Nation main page


deiseach said...

Can you direct me to the figures which demonstrate that Croke Park is "largely taxpayer-funded"? Or the stadium that the GAA is currently preventing 'Shamrock Rovers' from building? Cheers.

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Deiseach.

At the moment, I've only got figures from memory (when this debate was going on). From what I recollect, the redevelopment cost about EUR260M. EUR110M was Government money (tax and lottery allocation).

I should point out, I have no interest in Croke Park as a long-term (world)football venue - the pitch is too big, for a start. The whole situation only arose because of the Eircom Park / Bertie Bowl debacle. So the current (embarrassing) need to play there is temporary, and is something the GAA can easily facilitate.

Rather than on issues of pure figures though, my contention is that State money should not go to an organisation that opposes competing games on the grounds that they are "foreign". And if they are to be given money, it should be on the proviso that such an ethos is not compatible with the 21st century.

With regard to Rovers, Thomas Davis GAA club held up its construction by two years, by taking a High Court case over the pitch's dimensions. The ground still isn't open as a result.

deiseach said...

So you say 'largely taxpayer funded' even though you know the largest part of it does not come from taxpayer and / or lottery money.

Shamrock Rovers are not building the stadium in Tallaght, South Dublin County Council are.

The man planning to take this case against the Hilton is a fool, but using him along with two erroneous facts and two GAA rules that were removed three and 35 years ago respectively as sticks to beat the GAA with is only marginally less so.

The Gombeen Man said...

Deiseach. You might not like my points, but that does not make them erroneous.

1) "Largely" doesn't mean "largest". I think most rational people would say that EUR110M was a "large" amount.

2) Thomas Davis GAA club did delay the opening of Shamrock Rovers ground. You used the word "build".

3) Sure, the ban on GAA members playing "foreign" sports (no other sport has - or had - such a ban, to the best of my knowledge) was removed in a rush of comparitive enlightenment in 1971. In my opinion its effects are still in felt in terms participants denied to other sports.

4) The ban on "foreign" games at Croke Park was lifted three years ago in the face of strong opposition to retain it within the GAA's ranks. It was eventually lifted because of political pressure, the lever being the funding mentioned above.

In the light of the all that, I find it rather sweet for a Gah fan to be crying "discrimination" because of a hotel's decision to show Chelsea v Man Utd. Hence my original post.

deiseach said...

So even when you're wrong you're right. Message received and understood

The Gombeen Man said...