25/02/15 Senator Daly Speaks to the Seanad on Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Role and Interaction of GAA with the Diaspora: GAA

Senator Daly: I must agree with my colleague from Cork, nothing is won in February. It is when the business is done that Kerry comes to the fore. I welcome Liam O’Neill and Páraic Duffy to this meeting. As a chairman of the Kenmare Shamrocks hurling and Gaelic club for five years, from the age of 27, I learned more in that committee room than I have learned in this committee room, with all respect to the Chairman. I often found GAA committees far more political than politics, because there was so much passion involved. The Kenmare club has a distinct and unique record in that our players were the first to play in Holbrook in New Jersey in a hurling match in 1857, in the same field where baseball was founded. We were ahead of our time in that regard. Kenmare men like Seán Price and Collie Mathers who is not from Kenmare but whom we will give an honorary title, are still developing GAA games in the US, through having Shannon Gaels’ new grounds on Long Island.

The diaspora has come to the fore since the global economic forum. I was appointed by my party leader as the first spokesperson on the diaspora in the Seanad because we believe it is important our many citizens living overseas should have a voice at home and Fianna Fáil was the first party to call for a Minister for the diaspora. I am glad that Deputy Deenihan has been appointed to that post and he has been doing a great job since. The GAA has been the minister for the diaspora for the past 100 years and more. What does the GAA believe the Government and future Ministers should be doing in the long term? The GAA has delivered on the sporting end, but not just in that area. As colleagues have pointed out, this is also about health, mental health, jobs. Anybody looking for a job abroad turns up at the GAA club and will probably get a job that way. What should the new Ministry be doing for the diaspora? The GAA has the best built-in network of any organisation and is probably best placed to advise on this, with all due respect to the Department.

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