Alliance Sports Spokesperson Cllr. Michael Long has welcomed the decision by the Gaelic Athletic Association to allow Croke Park to be opened to soccer and rugby on a temporary basis at a meeting on Saturday. However, he has called for the GAA to go further and abandon Rule 42 altogether.
The GAA’s decision opens the door to the Ireland rugby team and Republic of Ireland soccer side playing at the Dublin stadium only on a temporary basis, and does not apply at other grounds.
Cllr. Long said, “Whilst I welcome this decision as a step forward, I am calling on the GAA to go further and abandon this anachronistic and divisive rule altogether.
“In Alliance, we recognise that sport has the potential to bring people together, and believe that the banning of football and other sports from
Gaelic grounds is totally counterproductive. It’s also hypocritical given that some teams are using non-Gaelic grounds for training and practice,
exactly the kind of co-operation which we welcome.
“The current segregation in sport has led to duplication of facilities, wasting limited resources, and as a result Northern Ireland has lots of crumbling, run down sports grounds and not a single high-quality, modern sporting stadium.
“Some within the GAA clearly fear competition from football and rugby; however, I firmly believe by pooling resources in high-quality, shared facilities, we will secure the future and increase attendances for all sports.
“The plans for a new multi-sports stadium, which could provide world class facilities for all sports, will need the GAA to look beyond Rule 42 and see the benefits of all sports working together. Alliance supports the stadium initiative as it will provide state of the art facilities, improve co-operation and, as it will be at a neutral venue, could actually help to
encourage supporters from non-traditional backgrounds to attend other sporting events.
“I have been encouraged by the GAA’s support for the project to date, but Rule 42 will have to be ditched if they are to deliver.”