'Get it sorted': Senior GAA official appeals to politicians to strike deal as school coaching jobs hang in balance
ULSTER GAA's director of coaching has appealed to Stormont leaders to strike a deal as more than 50 jobs hang in the balance amid the continuing political impasse.
Eugene Young warned of looming unemployment for school coaching staff and told the north's politicians to "get it sorted".
The Ulster's Council's director of coaching and games development posted a photograph on social media of political leaders Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster alongside an image of some of the sports coaches.
He said that as the political "arguments go on", Ulster GAA and Irish Football Association staff had only 26 days of work left.
SDLP assembly member Justin McNulty also claimed that "with the collapse of the Stormont Executive, these roles have been cast aside as collateral damage".
Ulster GAA provides 25 coaches and the Irish FA 28 for the Curriculum Sports Programme (CSP), which involves Gaelic and soccer coaches visiting primary schools across the north.
The project has been running since 2007 with coaches from both organisations working with 38,000 primary school children at 450 schools every year.
Around £1.3 million is spent by the Department of Education annually, with the scheme provided under contract by the GAA and IFA. But funding for the programme is due to stop on October 31 due to pressures on the education budget.
Mr Young has appealed for politicians to come up with a deal to return to Stormont and save the coaching roles.
In his message on Facebook accompanying the images of politicians and coaching staff, he wrote: "What is the difference between these two photos?
"One group gets paid and one group has 26 days work left before they are unemployed.
"26 days left and the arguments go on, really get it sorted."
Mr McNulty said the coaches and children "have been failed by the DUP and Sinn Féin and their refusal to make Stormont work".
"With the collapse of the Stormont Executive these roles have been cast aside as collateral damage," he said.
"It's hard to fathom how some parties have been promising to restore these roles if and when a devolved government gets up and running again.
"That's useless to the coaches who will be out of work.
"These hollow commitments are no comfort to IFA and Ulster GAA who will be responsible for redundancy payments and will be little consolation to the thousands of school children impacted who look forward to the weekly coaching sessions."
A spokesman for the IFA said last night it will "continue to work with the GAA to lobby the department to continue funding for this award-winning programme until all hope of its functioning is gone".