A referee who was allegedly attacked at a football match in Co Wexford on Sunday afternoon is said to be “shaken” but is “recovering at home”.
The incident is said to have happened at a junior championship match in the town of Wexford between home team St Joseph’s and Our Lady’s Island.
Wexford GAA chairman Micheál Martin said the “positive news” was that the referee was not seriously injured, but the way referees are treated was a problem.
“He’s obviously shaken up and at home and recovering at home,” he said.
“It’s a problem it doesn’t shy away from as a problem in our own county. I think it’s a problem in all sport in Ireland. Certainly we have seen incidents in other counties throughout the GAA.
“We’ve had a number of serious incidents, possibly less serious than what we’re talking about today, and they’ve been dealt with very severely by our Disciplinary Committee, but the fact that you’re having to deal with it first and foremost is very disappointing, and it is one that we constantly remind the clubs of.”
Mr Martin said the number of referees in the county has fallen from 70 to 50 in recent years and this is affecting the cancellation of adult and youth division games.
Speaking of RTÉ News at Onehe said there is a “lack of respect” for authority in society and the GAA is no different.
“We’ve issued some very important suspensions, but I think as a primary school principal, I remember attending a conference about 10 years ago where one of the issues was a lack of respect for decision-makers and authority in general,” he added added .
“That’s 10 years ago, and I think there’s been an erosion of respect for authority and decision-makers at all levels of society and the GAA over the last 10 years, because in every community and in our case in the county, we’re a mirror image of society.
“It’s gotten to the point where every decision is being questioned and you see, I suppose it’s manifesting on social media as well… I think we’ve hit a tipping point at the moment and it’s something that all political decision-makers know about ourselves at the district level up to the association level at the national level, but sports policy must also sit down again and think about how we go about it.”
On the same programme, Secretary of Sport Jack Chambers “absolutely” condemned the incident.
“There should be no threatening or abusive behavior towards match officials. As we know, match officials and referees are essential to the functioning of our game in all sports and they must be protected and respected. They have to be taken seriously by all authorities involved, so there are appropriate sanctions and lockdown enforcement,” he said.
“I think we have to respect referees and match officials in all sports and any incident cannot be tolerated and so there is a combination of action in terms of sanctions and deterrence but also awareness throughout the sport system and that requires everyone involved by national level down to grassroots level to ensure our referees are protected and respected.
“We’ve had a couple of incidents over the past few weeks that I think have shocked people and we need to make sure they are removed from our games.”
Gardaí have launched an investigation and confirmed that officers “were called to the GAA’s premises in Whiterock Hill to investigate an alleged assault on the match umpire.
“We conducted an initial investigation after being informed of an incident involving a mentor from St. Joseph.”
Lake Garda’s investigation into the incident continues, its spokesman added.
A post on the St Joseph’s Club Facebook page also addressed the alleged incident and read: “The St Joseph’s GAA Club is investigating an incident at a junior (sic) championship game at St Joseph’s grounds between St .Joseph’s and Our Lady’s Island.
“We condemn such behavior towards match officials.
“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the referee and we wish him all the best. We would like to thank all medical staff who have provided assistance.
“The club will fully cooperate with any investigation into the matter by Wexford GAA and Wexford CCC.
“St. Joseph’s will not be making any further statements at this time.”
A statement published on the Wexford County Board’s official website said: “Wexford GAA is aware of an incident involving match officials during a junior football match today, Sunday. Wexford GAA is disappointed that such an incident has taken place and strongly condemns any threatening or abusive behavior towards our match officials.
“We would like to wish the officers involved in this incident a speedy recovery.
“The CCC will launch a full investigation into the incident and Wexford GAA will also be assisting An Garda Síochána in their investigation.”
Meanwhile, Mayo GAA is also investigating an incident that led to the abandonment of a small football game at Josie Munnelly Park on Sunday night.
Mayo GAA said it will be at a CCC meeting later this week.
Additional coverage by the Wexford People.
https://www.independent.ie/news/wexford-gaa-referee-shaken-but-recovering-following-alleged-assault-42017560.html Wexford GAA umpire ‘shaken but recovering’ after alleged assault