Sport

Tyrone's Gemma Begley appointed as GPA's first ever GPA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager

13 December 2021; To mark the first anniversary of the merger between the GPA and WGPA, Gemma Begley, a WGPA founding member, was announced as the GPA’s first Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Pictured at the GPA Office in Santry, Dublin, is GPA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Gemma Begley, right, alongside Dublin camogie player and artist Aisling Maherm, who has produced 12 portraits of all the founding members. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Paul McConville

FORMER Tyrone footballer Gemma Begley has been appointed as the GPA's new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, a first for the players’ body. The announcement was made to coincide with the first anniversary of the vote which saw the GPA merge with its sister organisation the Women’s Gaelic Players Association (WGPA).

Begley was a founding member of the WGPA and has long prioritised the fair treatment of female athletes. She played a central role in the discussions with Sport Ireland and the Department of Sport, alongside GPA National Executive Committee (NEC) Co-chair Maria Kinsella, which saw the announcement earlier this year of equitable public funding for female inter-county players. Payment of these historic grants will be made in the coming week.

The Carrickmore woman's role will include liaison with the GPA’s NEC Equality Sub-Committee. The chair of that group will be named in the coming weeks. It will guide GPA policy in both the shorter term and longer term as regards the steps needed to be taken to ensure female players receive the same recognition, opportunity and investment as their male counterparts.

Speaking on her appointment, Begley said; “I am passionate about the drive for real equality within Gaelic games but more widely within sport in general.

"I have first hand experience of what it is like to be an inter-county player and know that female players deserve better than what they currently get in terms of medical care, their nutritional needs, access to facilities and expenses. I will keep these front and centre on the GPA agenda and thank Tom Parsons and Ciarán Barr in particular for how they have prioritised equality over the last twelve months.”

GPA CEO Tom Parsons said: “Equality was added to the GPA Constitution as one of our four key pillars as part of the merger and today’s announcement is another important step. In the last year we have achieved a 50:50 gender split on our Board of Directors and have elected a NEC that proportionally represents our male and female members. With major input from Gemma, we have helped secure government grants for female inter-county players which are on a par with what their male colleagues get.

“It’s important to note that none of this could have been done without the support of male players who voted unanimously for the merger and have backed the steps we have taken so far at NEC and Board level.”

Yesterday also saw the unveiling of charcoal portraits of the founding members of the GPA and WGPA in the GPA offices. The 12 individual pieces were commissioned three months ago and completed in that time by Dublin camogie player and artist Aisling Maher. These portraits are to serve as a constant reminder of the heritage and history that the GPA has been built upon.

The founding members commemorated in the portraits are: Anna Geary (Cork), Gemma Begley (Tyrone), Aoife Lane (Galway), Deirdre Murphy (Clare), Fiona McHale (Mayo), Valerie Mulcahy (Cork), Kate Kelly (Wexford), Donal Óg Cusack (Cork), Peter Canavan (Tyrone), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh), Brian Whelahan (Offaly) and DJ Carey (Kilkenny)

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