Donegal officials hits out at social media abuse of officials in convention address

“Social media abusers must be held accountable."

That’s the hard-hitting message from outgoing Donegal County Secretary Declan Martin in his annual report to the Donegal County Convention in the Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny tonight.

The Naomh Muire clubman, who is unopposed added that Donegal County Board would be taking action where appropriate.

“It is easy to sit at a keyboard and find fault with anyone who is brave enough to put themselves forward to officiate at our games.

“Social media abuse is also being aimed at our team officials, officers and players.

“It was highlighted at our county committee meetings this year and we as a county will attempt to do our part to make sure that any person who posts personal offensive material is held accountable under the rules of the GAA”.

Specifically on referees, he says: “It takes a lot of courage to take up refereeing, and anyone who does so should be commended for it.

“Unfortunately, some of the time they get abuse at games which can be dealt with by their report.

“But in the modern world they also get abuse on social media which is becoming prevalent in our games”.

Meanwhile outgoing Referees Administrator Pat Walsh hit out at those team officials and mentors who “accost” referees when they are going off the field at half-time and their refusal to comply with existing regulations on the sideline.

In his annual report, the Bundoran clubman welcomes the recent national initiative by the GAA to focus on respect for referees, linespersons, umpires and sideline officials.

“Disrespect by players is not an issue as, when it occurs, there are immediate and serious consequences for the player.”

But the long-serving referee feels that this plan is not being adhered to and he highlights the issue of referees being “accosted” as they walk off the pitch at half-time.

“A clear action plan must be put in place before the start of the 2023 season so that everything is clear, and every transgression is reported and dealt with.

“A common comment in the GAA is that the playing rules are complex and difficult to implement on occasions.

“However, when the referee blows his whistle, having made a decision, the players accept and move on."

And he hits out at team officials who are not following the side-line rules.

“Team officials have simple rules to follow such as five inside the wire: all wearing numbered bibs (blue or red) with a maor uisce and a maor camán.

“All team officials must stay inside the white box with only two standing.

“I ask 'how often do we see these regulations complied with?'"

“How often do we see team officials accosting the referee or his linespersons as they walk off the pitch at half-time.

“The referees believe that this is where disrespect happens in the first instance and that the first focus to improve respect must be placed on this aspect of our games.”

Elsewhere, it could be a lively convention with a number of contests for key roles.

And there will also be a new county chairman as the incumbent Mick McGrath is in the final year of his five-year office.

Current Ulster Council delegate Fergus McGee and ex-Donegal player Paul McGonigle are contesting the vacant chair and it could be a close encounter.


Chairman: Fergus McGee, Paul McGonigl.e

Vice-Chair: David McLoone.

Secretary: Declan Martin.

Asst Secretary: Ed Byrne, Sharon McGinty.

Treasurer: Alan Boyd.

Ass Treasurer: Frankie Doherty.

PRO: Fiona Shiels, Sinead Breen, Oisin Cannon.

Irish and Cultural Officer: Catrióna Ui Shuibhne.

Coaching Officer: Michael McGeehin, Gary Boyle.

Central Council: Sean Dunnion, Ed Byrne, Mick McGrath

Ulster Council (2): Fergus McGee, Brendan Kelly, Cieran Kelly, Aodh Mairtín Ó Fearraigh, Fiona Shiels, Donal Sharkey, Pat Walsh.

Delegate to Ulster Convention (1): Ed Byrne, David McLoone.

Delegate to National Congress (1): Ed Byrne, John Boyle, Mick McGrath, John McConnell.