By Joe Leogue
The Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport, Shane Ross, has said he would love to see the tribute match for the late Liam Miller take place at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and that he told the GAA president he wanted “an early solution” to the impasse.
The GAA is considering a proposal from organisers to host the match involving Miller’s former Manchester United, Celtic, and Ireland team mates at the 45,000- capacity stadium, following a meeting at Croke Park on Tuesday.
The meeting came after the GAA previously declared that it was rule-bound from accommodating the fixture, the proceeds of which will go to Miller’s widow, three children, and Marymount Hospice.
Miller died last February, aged 36.
However, on Monday, the Irish Examiner revealed that, behind the scenes, both politicians and officials from Mr Ross’s department had intervened and warned the GAA that its refusal to host the match may break the terms attached to the €30m funding granted for Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s redevelopment.
On Miriam O’Callaghan’s RTÉ Radio One show, Mr Ross described the continuing controversy as a very unfortunate dispute.
[quote]I was in touch with John Horan, the president of the GAA, on Sunday and I made it absolutely clear that we wanted to see an early solution to this,” said Mr Ross.[/quote]
“I’ve also made it perfectly clear that we’ve introduced a very large infrastructure fund in the sports programme and that it is vital that money that is given to people, in this situation Páirc Uí Chaoimh, should also ensure that the body that receives the money shares those facilities with the community.
“That is the basic principle that we have established, and it is imperative that all those organisations that get very, very large grants — and Páirc Uí Chaoimh as well — realises their obligations to the communities, not just to themselves.
[quote]I would love to see it played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. It’s perfectly clear that I want to see a settlement. I don’t want to reveal a private conversation but I want to make it perfectly clear now, publicly, that I would love to see it take place at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. I think that would be the sensible solution.[/quote]
“It would be a seriously good solution for the community, and it would set an example to others that if bodies are going to get large amounts of state funds, they can’t just use it for their own use, they have an obligation to the community as well.