GAA president seeks meeting with Taoiseach over Government’s criticism of GAAGO

GAA president Jarlath Burns said he is seeking an early meeting with the Taoiseach and Tanaiste over the Government’s criticism of the streaming service, GAAGO.

Mr Burns said he was “surprised and disappointed” by criticism of the GAAGO service by Simon Harris and Micheal Martin.

Mr Harris said last week that the GAA had “got it wrong” about the streaming service and asked it to review their use, while Mr Martin expressed “huge concerns” about the outlet.

GAAGO charges users 79 euro for a season pass, which includes 38 games.

Leinster Rugby v Northampton Saints – Investec Champions Cup – Semi Final – Croke Park
GAA President Jarlath Burns (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Burns defended the streaming service on Today with Claire Byrne on RTE Radio.

“I’m very surprised to hear the Taoiseach speaking about this considering that last year we sat in front of an Oireachtas committee.

“We were asked to do so and we did so,” he said.

“There were no issues and at the end of it they accepted every argument that we had, all of our rationale for the fact that we only have one broadcast partner, which is RTE, they have 35 matches.

“If you try to imagine a world without GAAGO, the rest of these games just would not be broadcast because we only have one broadcast partner.

“Myself and Tom Ryan Ard Stiurthoir (director general) last Wednesday actually had a meeting with the Sports Minister Thomas Byrne and all of his officials, we actually put GAAGO on the agenda and we asked him were there any residual issues coming up and he said no.

“(He said) We accept that GAAGO is an outstanding service, particularly for exiles abroad and who wouldn’t be able to watch any of the games and GAA has a growing global market.”

He said he also had a meeting with the Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe in Croke Park two weeks ago and GAAGO was not raised by the minister.

He added: “I’m very, very surprised and disappointed that the Taoiseach and then the Tanaiste would actually speak about something that we have already been in front of an Oireachtas committee for.

“They were satisfied with our answers, it came up last week at a meeting, there were no issues.

“You would almost think there was an election coming up.”

He said that last year’s review of GAAGO found that an “overwhelming” amount of people viewed it as a “brilliant service”.

He also said an extra 29 games were shown last year that wouldn’t “normally have been shown”.

Mr Burns added: “I will be asking for an early meeting with the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste to get them to explain exactly where they are with regard to the criticism of our Association

“There’s a couple of very important points that we have to make here.

“I will make absolutely no apologies for trying to extract as much commercial revenue as we possibly can from our games, because we do not have the same auctioning power as, for example the Premier League, has.

“We refuse to accept any revenue from alcohol companies.

“Their third is from gambling companies.

“The GAA has blacklisted all gambling companies in terms of commercial revenue.

“That only leaves our games.

“Our games are the most important things that we have.”

Mr Burns said he will not attend another committee hearing to answer questions this year.

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard said it was “surprising” Mr Burns has refused an invitation to attend.

“At a time when transparency is crucial, the GAA should be using the opportunity to explain their decisions, not dodging important discussions,” Mr Lombard said in a statement.

“They should appear before the Seanad Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight.

“The GAA has to remember its roots—it’s not about extracting revenue by any means; it’s about ensuring the long-term success of the game and the community it builds.”

Over the weekend, Mr Lombard said that GAAGO “must go”.