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GAA heading for professionalism, says former presidental candidate

Former presidential candidate Sean Fogarty has warned that the GAA is hurtling towards professionalism.

The Tipperary native has also questioned why current GAA president Christy Cooney is being paid while fulfilling the prestigious role, insisting that the Cork native should be doing the job on a strictly voluntary basis.

In a hard-hitting reaction to the discussion paper on payments to managers, released by Croke Park on Tuesday, Fogarty warned of a potential doomsday scenario for the GAA if inter-county bosses are paid.

Fogarty, defeated by Cooney in the race for the presidency in 2008, believes that paying bosses would be the "second last step to a professional organisation," with payment for players the last step, in his view.

Fogarty has also accused top brass of "buying the silence" of the GPA by signing a deal last year that will see more than €8.5m pumped into the players' body over a five-year period.

Fogarty said: "The Association is now on the last leg of the tripod and headed for a big fall, unless somebody steps back and shouts 'stop'.

"There are three traditional pillars of Irish society -- the church, the GAA and Fianna Fail. Two of them have taken a battering and we could take a bigger fall than any. The GAA will fall asunder.

"We only hear from the grassroots one weekend of every year, at Congress. And the people that talk about the grassroots don't mean a word of it. I'd say 90pc of people attending Congress will have very little involvement in their own club. They're shouting about the grassroots, but this is an organisation that can pay its president in an honorary position a healthy sum. I think that's terribly wrong.

"We've lost our way in the past few years. The giving of €8.5m to buy the silence of the GPA -- you'd hardly know they existed now but they'll be back for more when the five-year term is up.

"There's is no comparison now between the GAA that I joined all those years ago and the GAA now. Our strong point was the parish identity, the love and pride of the parish. But we've gone away from that."

Belfast Telegraph