THERE was a right old barney at County Hall last week over the GAA pay-per-view streaming service and the fact that it was the only place people could watch Limerick’s recent clash with Clare in the Munster Hurling Championship.
Fine Gael councillor John Egan pucked it out of the chamber when he called on the local authority to correspond with the President of the GAA to request the championship matches be aired free of charge on terrestrial television.
Clare’s win over Limerick last month, and Cork’s draw against Tipperary, were only shown on GAAGO, which meant a huge amount of GAA fans missed out on both games.
Cllr Egan took the view that the GAA has “lost the plot” and hit out that elderly people who had supported the amateur sporting organisation all their lives were unable to watch the games.
“They pulled a stroke on us,” he declared.
Seconding the motion, Fine Gael councillor Olivia O’Sullivan was in full agreement that GAA Championship matches should be shown for free on television, not online via websites or apps.
“As our national games, an amateur sport, we should always be looking to preserve the game and we should be continuously looking to build on its profile — not excluding many from access,” Cllr O’Sullivan insisted.
“I have no problem with GAAGO as a service, it is fantastic for supporters overseas to be able to access games. But domestic income from GAAGO cannot be deemed essential income for the organisation. As well as significant gate receipts, the GAA receives funding by the State, with figures showing €21 million in State funding and supports received in 2022. Surely as a country we can expect free to air games on television in return?
“In 2023, it is unfair to vulnerable people who, for example, have spent their lives supporting teams and attending matches only to be cut off access to games in their later years.”
Cllr O’Sullivan explained that when she is talking about vulnerable groups, she is talking about the elderly and people living with disabilities, or those with lower literacy skills, who for whatever reason personal to them are prevented from access.
“Enough of the digital discrimination of the elderly, the disabled, and those with literacy challenges. We have seen the banks impose this on our vulnerable groups — there is not a single bank branch left in the Northside of the city since the AIB and Bank of Ireland branches shut up shop — now the GAA are trying to impose similar digital discrimination.
“Not everyone has a smartphone, a tablet, or laptop, or even internet access. And not everyone can use them, even if they do have them,” she concluded.