Minister Micheál Martin announces Partnership Agreement with the GAA to promote Gaelic Games Abroad
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin TD, announced today that the Government is to launch a joint programme with the GAA to promote our Gaelic games abroad. Speaking at the launch in Croke Park this afternoon, Minister Martin said:
“The GAA plays a key role in the social and cultural life of Irish communities abroad. The Association underpins and promotes Irish heritage and identity across the globe, and is a major contributor to Irish Community networks and outreach. As a Government, we are determined to maintain and strengthen our links with Irish communities abroad”
The Minister went on to say that
“One of the many results flowing from the effective end of emigration is that Gaelic games in Britain and North America are now being played increasingly by the children of our Diaspora. I share the belief of the GAA that the future of our Gaelic games overseas will increasingly depend on young people with an Irish background."
The Minister said that “in recognition of this emerging reality, the Department of Foreign Affairs has entered into a strategic partnership with the GAA in a joint initiative to provide coaching of Gaelic games among young people in Britain and North America. This year, emigrant support funding of £250,000 sterling will match GAA funding to support 10 coaches in Britain. A further $100,000 will match GAA funding to support 4 coaches in North America.”
The Minister also availed of the launch to “announce a special grant of €20,000 to the Belfast Cúchullains hurling team which will be travelling to play a series of matches in New York and Philadelphia. The team is drawn from both sides of the community in Belfast and will play against teams made up of native born Irish-Americans. The Cúchullains are a wonderful example of how the two traditions on this island can come together in a spirit of peace, friendship and reconciliation, underpinned by sport. Understanding and appreciating the different traditions on this island is, I believe, an essential ingredient to achieving the peaceful and prosperous future we all desire”
Note to Editors:
In 2007, the Department of Foreign Affairs developed a global funding policy, which includes support for GAA activities abroad, commencing with Britain, the United States and Canada. The primary purpose is to support community orientated GAA activities. Funding for all GAA bodies abroad is now dealt with centrally by the Overseas Committee from Croke Park. This policy has facilitated greater strategic direction in the further development of the heritage and sport dimension of emigrant services in Britain, the US and Canada, Australia and worldwide. For years, GAA clubs around the world have helped their members and supporters to maintain and enhance their links with Ireland. Importantly, the GAA has helped to sustain a strong sense of community among our people overseas.
The decrease in emigration in recent years has impacted on the numbers of Irish-born players abroad. The GAA is actively developing the growing interest in Gaelic games amongst young people of Irish descent by way of Games Development Administrators – 10 in Britain and 4 in the United States
The Games Promotion and Development Programme in Britain
A Provincial Games and Administrative Manager has been put in place to oversee the initiative and coordinate and manage the Games Development Administrators in each county board area - Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, London, Scotland, Warwickshire and Yorkshire.
The overall aim of the initiative in Britain is to develop, promote and grow Gaelic games. Key objectives include
Introduce a structured approach to Gaelic games into schools
Increase local school tournaments and summer camps
Increase provincial school tournament playing subscription
Build links between primary / secondary schools and clubs
Retain and build on the number of players in their teenage years
Help discourage alcohol and substance abuse through sport
Increase player subscription base of clubs
Increase skills and playing standard of players and clubs
Increase number of clubs within the province
Increase the standard of both club and county teams at provincial level
Become self sufficient, with ability to train, coaches and referees
The GAA costed the initiative at £500,000 a year approximately and requested matching DFA support of £250,000. This was approved last year.
GAA North American Youth Development Initiative
The North American Youth Games Development Programme has appointed four development officers to implement the youth development plan.
The number of Irish born players with clubs in America is not being replenished on an ongoing basis, compared with heretofore. The GAA consider that it is vital to continue to harness the increasing interest in our games by second or third generation young people of Irish ancestry. It is this enormous, but largely untapped, potential resource that the GAA is targeting through the appointment of the youth development officers.
The GAA costed the initiative at US$250,000 and requested DFA support of US$100,000, with the balance being met by the Association.
The GAA is also progressively addressing the provision of better playing pitches and facilities, notably in New York and Chicago and on the West Coast.
The North American Continental Youth Championships and The Belfast Cúchullains U16 Hurling Team
The Continental Youth Championship (CYC) is an annual weekend
tournament of Gaelic football and hurling organized by the
It is contested by teams from the USA and Canada. It began in 2004 and involves up to 2,000 younger players, making it the largest GAA gathering overseas. The location rotates to different cities year to year. The 2008 Continental Youth Championships are being held in Philadelphia 24 - 27 July.
In a new departure this year, the Belfast Cúchullains U16 Hurling team is to take part in the competition. The players on the team represent both traditions and live in some of the most deprived areas of North, West and East Belfast.
To ensure the success of the tournament generally, and specifically to assist in covering the costs of the Belfast Cúchullains’ visit, a grant of €20,000 is being awarded to the Steering Committee of the Continental Youth Championships.
24th June 2008