Cllr fights back against ‘cashless’ Co Board ire
Aontú’s Sarah O’Reilly has hit back after being accused of poor sportsmanship over comments she made at the October Council meeting criticising Cavan County GAA Board for not accepting cash at match turnstiles.
“I think they took it personally,” said the Bailieborough-Cootehill elected representative at the November meeting in reference to a “very angry phonecall” she received in the wake of comments she made claiming Ireland was “fast becoming no country for older men” caused by the push to implement cashless systems.
Following the October meeting, Cllr O’Reilly said she received a phonecall from a person, who she did not name, telling her they were speaking on behalf of a room of 21 people whom she described as having been “mostly men”.
“There was a lot of anger in the room, they had never seen so much anger in a room before,” she said she was told over the phone.
“They wanted me to know that they were volunteers and I was a ‘paid politician’,” she continued. “I was told that I was ‘looking for headlines’ and ‘attention seeking’. I was told not to send a letter from the council and that, if one was sent, it would not be responded to, it would be going into the bin.”
Cllr O’Reilly’s October motion also asked that the council write to the last two large remaining banking providers in Ireland - AIB and Bank of Ireland.
Her motion highlighted how some people, particularly the older demographic in rural areas with poor broadband, were unable to buy tickets via an app without the help of others.
To the November meeting, concerning the phonecall she received, Cllr O’Reilly said she was told that the Co Board “would not be getting into an over and back spat” with the council on the subject.
She said to the chamber that she was told that the Co Board was “not answerable” to the council, “only to the GAA clubs in the county”.
“I said that it was okay if they did not want to respond in writing, and that I would use the telephone conversation as their response,” she told the meeting. “I asked him, in all the talk about how wrong I was and how right they were, did anyone in the room at the meeting mention the people who I was trying to help? The people who are being discriminated against? And I asked him how we could resolve the issues I raised for the people who contacted me? I explained that this was not personal and that I had a job to do in representing the people who came to me for help.”
She said her feeling was the Co Board are “not for turning on this one”, and it was suggested to her that instead of making representations on the subject that people should instead “contact their club secretary” to voice concerns.
Cllr O’Reilly expressed how “disappointed” she felt at the reaction.
“It wasn’t meant to be personal,” she said of the motion. “I’m speaking up for the people who can’t access games.”
Sinn Féin’s Paddy McDonald, who supported Cllr O’Reilly’s October motion, said that Bailieborough Shamrocks intended to raise the matter as a motion at a future Co Board meeting with regards to securing a cash operating “facility” on match days.
Cathaoireach John Paul Feeley meanwhile noted that council members were “entitled” to raise matters for discussion as “they wish” and “so long as it was not libellous”.
It similarly was the Co Board’s entitlement to respond “or not to”, added Cllr Feeley.
The Cavan Co GAA Board were contacted in relation to the claims, and asked if they wished to make a statement.
No response has yet been received.
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