Why has the Oireachtas committee meeting with the GAA, IRFU and FAI gotten so much criticism?

Ger Gilroy and Joe Molloy quiz Brendan Griffin TD

Why has the Oireachtas committee meeting with the GAA, IRFU and FAI gotten so much criticism?

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Pádraic Duffy, John Delaney and Philip Browne appeared before the Joint Committee on Tourism, Transport and Sport on Wednesday to answer questions on the state of sport in Ireland. 

However, the lines and nature of the questions asked of the heads of the three governing bodies of rugby, GAA and football in Ireland has come under scrutiny in the wake of the first of what will be three meetings. 

Speaking to Brendan Griffin TD, the chairman of the Oireachtas hearing on sport, Ger and Joe asked why the format involved so many people asking so many disparate questions that seemed unrelated to one another.

"We're trying, as a committee, to consult with the main players in Irish sport to see how we, as a committee, can make recommendations to government in terms of what needs to be done, both at the elite level as well as at local level in terms of participation and performance - where we need to be channeling our efforts. 

"Today was the first of three meetings that are scheduled this month, the meeting went on for about two and a half hours, it was quite a constructive meeting with the IRFU, FAI and the GAA," Mr Griffin added.

"At these type of meetings, you don't get to have maybe all the questions raised and answered because you are limited with time. You have a number of members of the committee who all want their own questions to be asked as well. I think it's helpful, it's in the public domain and it's a good exercise." 

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However, Ger and Joe raised their concerns over how issues were addressed and not followed up with enough detail, in particular on the issues of salary in sports.

"As chairman, my role is to facilitate the speakers and the questioners, it isn't to direct them on whatever questions are to be asked. That is the choice of the members of the committee," said Mr Griffin.

Questioning the format of the committee, Ger stated: "there was grandstanding today by a bunch of politicians who are there and they're just chatting for ten minutes." 

"Honestly I'm surprised to hear you say there's an issue with time," added Joe, "because that was not reflected in the questioning. Far too many of the members felt obliged to just tell the lads what a great job they were doing and how they were welcome here."

"A committee is very much about getting an overview and the follow up work is done behind the scenes," Mr Griffin said in response, "so what you see is the tip of the iceberg in terms of committee work. 

"This is the first of a number of meetings and we will be issuing a report after that. You don't get to be as forensic and in-depth as you would like to be at committee level, that's the nature of it.

"One of the drawbacks of being in the chair is that you don't get quite to do the scrutiny and the cross examination as you might otherwise get to do."