Well-known Cork County Board delegate John Arnold has resigned as a Páirc Uí Chaoimh steward because he believes that the GAA are enabling what is in effect a rugby fundraiser at the venue.
Munster will face a South Africa selection at the Páirc in November and, at Tuesday night’s county board meeting, Bride Rovers delegate Arnold handed back his stewarding bib.
“I’m stepping down as a steward because of the fact that there’s a rugby match, a fundraiser for the IRFU, being played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh,” he says.
“I wasn’t overly happy when the Liam Miller match was played a few years ago but that was very different – in fairness, you had a widow and small children and it was a fundraiser and I contributed to it myself.
“They’re saying Cork GAA could benefit to the tune of €250,000 – but if that’s the case, the IRFU or Munster Branch would be gaining a lot more. People will be giving out next year, asking why we don’t put more coaches in the schools and it’s because we have to pay off the debt on the stadium – the IRFU can do that and it’s we’re funding them by effectively organising a fundraiser for them.
“I’m not a bigot – I don’t hate soccer, rugby, racing, cycling, boxing, swimming, judo. I don’t go to those but I love hurling and football and I’m a member of the GAA.
“It’s not our duty to promote anything else. Why we should be bending over backwards and facilitating them when what we’re doing is creating more income for them, I don’t know.
“I’m a conservative but some people think that that’s bad anything old-fashioned has to be got rid of. We say the GAA is democratic but this was given to us as a fait accompli – maybe I’m in a minority of one but at least let it be discussed.
“If someone came from Cincinnati, Luxembourg, Germany or Australia and asked you, ‘Is it true the Cork hurling team weren’t able to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and had to go to Thurles but a rugby team from South Africa could play there?’ you’d be a while explaining that to them.”
The rugby game is seen as a testing ground for a potential Heineken Champions Cup game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Another possible issue that Arnold foresees is the fact that attendees at the sold-out fixture may be allowed to have alcohol at their seats, something prohibited at GAA games.
“The ethos when Rule 42 was abolished was, ‘God help us, they’ve no stadium, Lansdowne Road is being knocked down and you couldn’t ask them to go over to England, you have to help a neighbour when he’s homeless,’” he says.
“The ink wasn’t dry on that when they went away from the idea of it being a temporary measure.
“The alcohol issue is a complete joke – I wouldn’t like to be a steward next year telling someone they couldn’t bring alcohol in when they’d say they had it at their seats for the rugby match.”