IRELAND’S SENIOR LADIES football and camogie finals have been designated ‘of major importance to society’, and will be available free-to-air as a result.
The announcement was made by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten today.
The Broadcasting Act 2009 provides that the Minister can designate certain sporting and cultural events of major importance to society to ensure these events are freely available on national television.
Minister Naughten has designated the All-Ireland Senior Ladies Gaelic Football and Camogie final as ‘events of major importance to society’, meaning they will be available on a free-to-air and live basis for Irish TV viewers. In accordance with the legislation, a review of the list of designated events takes place every three years.
Minister Naughten said that the decision has full backing from the Cabinet and the European Commission.
“I have always been adamant that ladies football and camogie be treated equally with men’s football and hurling and today’s announcement recognises that equality,” said Naughten.
There is no doubt in my mind that ladies GAA sporting heroes have become solid role models for young girls growing up in Ireland. GAA is part of our DNA as a country so it is only right that everyone gets to enjoy the female and male finals equally – either live in Croke Park or at home on television on a free-to-air basis.
“We’ve seen over the last number of years the interest has grown in both sports. Both attendance here in Croke Park and at the provincial games but also in relation to viewership numbers,” Naughten told reporters today.
He also noted that there has to be a balance between the need to generate funding and sponsorship and the need to generate access to the sport on television. “And it is a difficult challenge that is there in relation to that,” he said.
He said that recognition must go to public service broadcasters, particularly TG4 for its long-standing sponsorship and coverage of Senior Ladies Gaelic Football and to RTÉ for its coverage of Senior Camogie.
Catherine Neary, President of the Camogie Association, said that the designation will help to secure the promotion of the finals to every corner of the country and encourage new audiences to get involved with the game.
The camogie All-Ireland Finals take place on 10 September.
“It is an important day,” she said of the decision. “I think what it does is it marks that women’s sport is of equal value to our male counterparts.”
We still have a long way to go but I think today is a great day for female sports, not just for football or camogie, but it puts out that message that we do know that there’s a strong fanbase, we do know that there’s a lot of people that want to watch the game. And I think it’s important that we facilitate that, and make sure that people actually have that opportunity to watch it and I think that’s what that does today. And I think it builds on the build-up that we’ve seen with regards to the other sports. Long may it last.
She added: “But it’s only a small step on a long road and we continue to put the pressure on the various people into the future.”
Ladies Gaelic Football Association President Marie Hickey said: “This is recognition of how far our sport has come and how hard our players, volunteers and administrators have worked to achieve this recognition.’”
She said that it “gives great recognition to sport and great recognition to women’s sport and to women in sport in general” and noted there has been a “turning of the tide” in recognition of women’s sport.
“It is wonderful from our point of view,” she concluded.