The GAA in Donegal should hold their heads in shame - that was the reaction this week from Donegal councillor Paul Canning after the Naomh Padraig GAA Club in Newtowncunningham was slapped with an eight week ban from all adult competitions after a charity soccer match was held in its ground.
Back in February, a Diddler’s Cup fun football day was held at Pairc Colmcille in Newtowncunningham, as part of many fundraising efforts tied in with the 'Do it for Diddler' weekend for popular local man Paul Dillon, who has motor neuron disease.
Not surprisingly, the club is set to appeal the ban.
But the incident has caused uproar.
And Cllr. Canning has issued a long statement in relation to the matter.
As one of those heavily involved with the 'Do it for Diddler' activities, he stressed that the Naomh Padraig club committee had nothing to do with organising a fundraising event in Newtown.
He stated: "They had their own match against Dungiven at the same time within their own gaelic pitch.
"They were bullied into having to turn a blind eye unintentionally by myself and others, but when you look back at it, it's not unlike the case where Tom Ryan says the GAA were bullied regarding the Liam Miller match."
Cllr. Canning pointed out that his father was the chairman of the original committee that fundraised around 40 years ago and obtained funding from the government that developed the pitch, which consisted of a GAA pitch, a 400m running track and a soccer pitch.
He also noted that the local parish agreed to the local GAA club leasing the complete grounds free of charge. "These grounds still belong to the parish," he said.
He also mentioned that as a local architect he drew up the plans for the new clubhouse, obtained planning permission, obtained a fire certificate, obtained a club bar license, supervised the construction of the club house and dressing rooms - and all free of charge.
As a councillor he also allocated over €16000 to the club.
He questioned how there has been opposition and recalled that Paul Dillon had player for the club in times past.
While some GAA members warned that the club would probably get reprimanded for allowing the game to go ahead, he told them to "wise up" and to "take off their GAA hats and become one of the community that is showing compassion to one of their own for three hours on a Saturday afternoon, of which they did."
Directing his comments at the county board, he said: "It's high time the GAA had a bit of cop-on and actually listened to their own advert which promotes 'Where we all belong'.
He concluded by saying: "I think the GAA in Donegal should hold their heads in shame."
It is understood that Naomh Colmcille were in contravention of Rule 6.40 of the GAA’s Official Guide, which covers the holding of tournament games as it was deemed that they had hosted an ‘unauthorised tournament’.
Eight weeks' suspension and a fine of €500 is the minimum punishment for such a breach of rule.
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