Northern Ireland

Petition calls for GAA to scrap controversial cashless policy

Nodlaig Ni Bhrollaigh with her father Francie Brolly
Nodlaig Ni Bhrollaigh with her father Francie Brolly Nodlaig Ni Bhrollaigh with her father Francie Brolly

THE GAA is facing fresh calls to scrap a no cash policy introduced at sporting grounds which has been branded "senseless and unfair".

Around 400 people have already signed a petition, set up by Co Derry native Nodlaig Ni Bhrollaigh, calling for an end to the controversial policy.

Concerns were raised when it was introduced by Croke Park officials last year with fears raised that the move could have a disproportionate impact on older people.

Currently tickets for any game can only be bought online in advance with no facilities provided to pay by cash or card at the turnstile.

Members of the GAA have raised concerns, while some counties have even moved to head off potential problems at GAA grounds.

Last week a leading county board official in Derry reminded clubs that Sunday's McKenna Cup semi-final against Down at Páirc Esler in Newry was ticket only.

"Payment on the day will not be accepted," the official said.

"Please ensure that this is message is put on club social media outlets to avoid confrontation at the gates tomorrow (Sunday)."

Ms Ni Bhrollaigh is from a prominent Derry GAA family and her brother, GAA pundit Joe Brolly, won an All-Ireland with the county in 1993.

Her father Francie Brolly, a former Sinn Féin assembly member, who died in 2020, was an inter-county Gaelic footballer with Derry and played both hurling and football for Dungiven.

Her husband is former Antrim hurler Ciarán Herron while her uncle Liam Hinphey is a ex-Derry hurling manager.

Ms Ni Bhrollaigh, who also played ladies football for Derry, said the cashless policy presents specific problems.

"The GAA is a community, grass-roots organisation and as such, it should ensure that everyone has access to our games," she said.

"Many people rely on the use of cash for a variety of valid reasons and it is legal tender. To enforce a cashless policy will inhibit and deny access, cause offence and place both volunteers and attendees in an unenviable and unfair situation."

Ms Ni Bhrollaigh added that the current policy "will have a disproportionate impact on some of the most vulnerable in our community".

It has been imposed without any consultation or consideration of its potential impact on accessibility," she said.

"This policy contravenes the community ethos of the GAA and life-long volunteers, supporters and patrons of the GAA are encouraged to sign this petition to bring an immediate end to this senseless and unfair policy."

This petition when complete is expected to be delivered to the Chairperson of Ulster GAA, Ciaran McLaughlin.

The GAA declined to comment.