Northern Ireland

GAA to trial card payment for entry to games amid 'no cash' row

Campaigners opposed to the GAAs ticketing policy outside Healy Park in Omagh earlier this month
Campaigners opposed to the GAAs ticketing policy outside Healy Park in Omagh earlier this month

THE GAA is set to introduce card payments at some venues amid the row over its contentious new ticket policy, it has been claimed.

The sports body has been coming under pressure to reverse a decision to end its no cash policy for entry to GAA grounds across Ireland.

Under the controversial policy brought in by Croke Park officials last year, tickets for any game can now only be bought online in advance with no facilities provided to pay by cash or card at the turnstile.

Earlier this month Age NI, which campaigns on behalf of the elderly, wrote to the Ulster Council outlining its concerns over the policy.

It has been claimed that GAA chiefs in Ulster are now planning to "trial" a system allowing supporters to buy tickets by card at some grounds.

However, paying by cash will still be banned.

Details emerged after a meeting between Ulster Council officials and the Alliance MLA and party spokesman for sport, David Honeyford earlier this week.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Mr Honeyford is a development officer with St Joseph’s GAC Glenavy in Co Antrim.

Mr Honeyford last night welcomed the shift in position describing it as a "positive move in the right direction".

"The GAA is a community organisation, you want the community to be able to access games and that's the point," he said.

"You don't want anybody turned away...if you are allowing access to the grounds and being inclusive, that's positive to move that direction."

Co Derry native Nodlaig Ní Bhrollaigh is leading a campaign opposing the current ticketing system.

Ms Ní Bhrollaigh, who is a sister of GAA pundit Joe Brolly, remains critical of the no cash policy.

"Croke Park has decided that the GAA will turn from being a community based model to a professional English premiership model that serves commercial interests and the majority of ‘consumers’," she said.

"The GAA doesn’t belong to Croke Park, it belongs to the people and we all have a duty to protect an ethos that has served our community so well."

She said GAA supporters need to send a strong message to the association's Dublin leadership.

"Turning a blind eye to the needs and the realities of some of our older patrons and the most vulnerable is not who we are," she said.

"The grassroots GAA community need to send a strong message to Croke Park that our community ethos is not for sale."

The GAA at Croke Park and Ulster were contacted.