Down GAA expresses concern over supporters' 'intimidating behaviour'
DOWN GAA plans to deploy 'additional stewarding and security' at major club games this weekend after “intimidating behaviour” from some supporters and “unattended” young people “creating havoc.”
A county board missive posted on Facebook also states that “Down GAA stewards have been subjected to derogatory taunts from some teenagers” and has warned that patrons who misbehave “will be identified and action will be taken.”
Mourne county secretary Sean Og McAteer has informed clubs that a £2 charge will be levied on all U16s attending the Senior Football Championship semi-finals in Newry’s Pairc Esler this weekend. Ballyholland meet Warrenpoint on Friday evening while Kilcoo take on Clonduff on Saturday night.
One member of a Down club who contacted The Irish News expressed surprise that the county board’s reaction to bad behaviour was “we will charge you money!”
A statement has been placed on the official Down GAA Facebook page, on behalf of the Down County Committee, asking clubs to bring it to the attention of their committees, members and supporters.
Clubs have been warned that “verbal abuse and intimidating behaviour has no place at our games”, yet that “there has been a regrettable increase in the level of abuse directed towards other supporters, match officials and county Officers by some patrons attending some games.”
The County Committee has also said that “from a Health, Safety and Child Welfare consideration, we are very concerned about the number of young people who are left unattended during fixtures at Pairc Esler.”
Commenting on this weekend’s games, which also include the Down Senior Hurling Championship Final, the statement said: “All have the potential to be great sporting occasions for the clubs involved and we are certainly looking forward to those games.
“However, we need to bring to the attention of all clubs the fact that the experience of attending some of our games in recent weeks has not been a completely pleasant one for some people.
“There has been a regrettable increase in the level of abuse directed towards other supporters, match officials and county Officers by some patrons attending some games.
“We accept that people will be passionate about their club’s participation, and passion is to be admired when it is channelled in a positive way; after all the GAA is built on the platform of club, parish and community.
“Verbal abuse and intimidating behaviour has no place at our games and we are giving notice that patrons who do not show respect to fellow Gaels at our fixtures this weekend and into the future will be identified and action will be taken.”
As regards the behaviour of some young people, the circular added: “On another note, from a Health, Safety and Child Welfare consideration, we are very concerned about the number of young people who are left unattended during fixtures at Pairc Esler.
“We encourage the attendance of young people, but would remind patrons that once inside the gate of a ground, that young person is still the responsibility of the person who brought them to the ground.
“Down GAA stewards have been subjected to derogatory taunts from some teenagers who seem to use the venue as a place where they can have license to run through the stand area creating havoc.
“As a result of this, Down GAA will be implementing a £2 charge for Under 16s attending our semi-finals at Pairc Esler this weekend.
“We implore all parents/ guardians to take responsibility for their children at the games – Pairc Esler is a wide and expansive stadium and we ask that parents/ guardians ensure that their child/children are with them during the games.
“We will be deploying additional stewarding and security this weekend to try and ensure that our patrons have an enjoyable experience and that people enter and exit the ground safely.”
A later post on the Down GAA Facebook page requested match day volunteers to help at Pairc Esler on Friday and Saturday nights.