Former Tyrone footballer and founding member of the Women’s Gaelic Players Association has been named as the first Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager for the merged Gaelic Players Association, one year on from the date on which the decision was taken to merge the GPA and the WGPA.

Begley played a central role in the discussions with Sport Ireland and the Department of Sport, alongside GPA National Executive Committee (NEC) Co-chair Maria Kinsella, which saw the announcement earlier this year of equitable public funding for female inter-county players.

Payment of these historic grants will be made in the coming week.

The new role will include liaison with the GPA’s NEC Equality Sub-Committee. The Chair of that group will be named in the coming weeks. It will guide GPA policy in both the short and longer-term as regards the steps needed to be taken to ensure female players receive the same recognition, opportunity and investment as their male counterparts.

It is a timely announcement given the explosive row that has broken out on the future direction and management of Women’s rugby. Begley is also a great appointment to the role. We have worked with her on a number of occasions and projects down the years and she is a determined and resourceful advocate for what she believes in.

“I am passionate about the drive for real equality within Gaelic games but more widely within sport in general,” said Begley.

“I have first-hand experience of what it is like to be an inter-county player and know that female players deserve better than what they currently get in terms of medical care, their nutritional needs, access to facilities and expenses.”

“I will keep these front and centre on the GPA agenda and thank Tom Parsons and Ciarán Barr in particular for how they have prioritised equality over the last twelve months.”

“Equality was added to the GPA Constitution as one of our four key pillars as part of the merger and today’s announcement is another important step,” said GPA CEO Tom Parsons.

“In the last year, we have achieved a 50:50 gender split on our Board of Directors and have elected an NEC that proportionally represents our male and female members.”

“With major input from Gemma, we have helped secure government grants for female inter-county players which are on a par with what their male colleagues get. ”

“It’s important to note that none of this could have been done without the support of male players who voted unanimously for the merger and have backed the steps we have taken so far at NEC and Board level.”

Also today, charcoal portraits of the founding members of the GPA and WGPA were unveiled in the GPA offices. The twelve individual pieces were commissioned three months ago and completed in that time by Dublin camogie player and artist Aisling Maher. These portraits are to serve as a constant reminder of the heritage and history that the GPA has been built upon.

The founding members commemorated in the portraits are: Anna Geary (Cork), Gemma Begley (Tyrone), Aoife Lane (Galway), Deirdre Murphy (Clare), Fiona McHale (Mayo), Valerie Mulcahy (Cork), Kate Kelly (Wexford), Donal Óg Cusack (Cork), Peter Canavan (Tyrone), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh), Brian Whelahan (Offaly) and DJ Carey (Kilkenny).


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