Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers came good on a promise yesterday when announcing that the same amount of money would be paid towards the funding of male and female inter-county players in Gaelic Games.
Both gender groups across football and hurling on the male side, and ladies football and camogie on the female will receive €2.4 million over the next 12 months to be distributed to players. Up until now, that figure was supplied for the men’s game but only €700,000 was paid towards the female players.
Grants for the women’s games were first paid only in 2017, nine years after they were won for male players.
The anomaly of their being paid a lesser amount will now come to an end after lobbying from the combined Gaelic Players Association and Women’s Gaelic Players Association as well as players, the Camogie Association and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association.
the discrepancy was not as obvious as it appears in administrative terms as the bodies governing the sports are still separate and based on gender, hampering the obvious right to equal funding up to this point.
Speaking on the Claire Byrne Radio Show in RTÉ One yesterday the Minister said that “If you look at the status quo, if you’re a male player you get €1,200; if you’re a female player you get €400. I can’t stand over or defend that inequity.”
“We’re in 2021 and we’ve seen this year the GPA and WGPA merged, underpinned by the principle of equality. I think that principle has to stand when it comes to the funding of our players.”
“What I propose doing is that we’ve €1,200 for both and I think that is the right thing to do. If you take the ‘Levelling the Field’ report from the WGPA last year and they reference for example the huge difficulty they have around certain expenses.”
“We’ve seen massive growth in football and camogie over the last 20 years. For all of our young women and girls, who are playing camogie and Gaelic football, we need to ensure that there is no artificial glass ceiling when it comes to sport.”
“I’m serious about rectifying that. It is absolutely important that we have parity of esteem and equality of treatment when it comes to funding. I’m going to do that this year. I think incremental progress when there is such inequality isn’t enough.”
The decision was warmly welcomed across the sport. In a statement from co-chairs Maria Kinsella and Tom Parsons, the Gaelic Players Association said “The role of female inter-county players and the value that they contribute within Irish society has been rightfully recognised by today’s announcement and we thank the Minister and Minister of State for responding so positively to the data presented in the Levelling the Field Report.”
One of the recommendations of that report was to strive for equitable funding and investment for female inter-county players.
Here is an interview we conducted with Maria Kinsella on the publication of that report in October 2020.
“We now look forward to working with them, their officials and Sport Ireland to devise the most appropriate model for the distribution of the funding to ensure it has the most positive impact possible on the lives of our members.”
“With the merger of the GPA and WGPA the pillar of Equality was added to the GPA Constitution,” added interim GPA CEO Ciaran Barr.
“We want to achieve equality of investment, recognition and opportunity for our female members and it is heartening that our public representatives have responded so positively to that position.”
“Today’s announcement also shows that when players speak collectively with one voice through the GPA really constructive and impactful change can come about.”
The Ladies Gaelic Football Association also issued a statement welcoming the decision.
“Our players brought so much joy to supporters of our game watching on at home and from around the world during the 2020 Championship season – and we’re looking forward to them providing many more great memories during the weeks and months ahead.”
“Together with the Camogie Association and WGPA, we have submitted proposals for players expenses as part of the Intercounty Government Grant Scheme over the past number of years, and we are delighted to see this come to fruition.”
“We would like to thank the Government officials and Sport Ireland for their engagement in relation to these grants.”
“We also wish to thank members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht for accommodating an address and feedback from our CEO, Helen O’Rourke, on Tuesday, April 27.”
“We are pleased that key recommendations from reports, which we contribute to, will be acted upon, including the allocation of player expenses as part of the inter-county Government Grant scheme.”
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