How times have changed. My first time to attend a GAA Convention was as a reporter in the Highlands Hotel, Glenties in 1990.
It was a time of turmoil in the GAA in the county with the changing of the guard at the top table and there was an undercurrent associated with that change that created an atmosphere that was quite tense.
The previous year Danny McNamee had ousted the late Francie Cunningham from the treasurer post and in 1990, Noreen Doherty defeated Bart Whelan for the position of secretary; a year later in Bundoran Naul McCole won a contest with the late Charlie Faulkner for the position of chairman to complete the total change at the top table.
There was no invitation sent to the media to attend the annual GAA Convention in 1990. It was just a matter of fact that we would turn up, albeit the media in Donegal at that stage was a much smaller ship than sails the troubled waters now.
But somehow, 23 years later, we seem to have turned full circle with an invitation being accorded to the media to attend the annual gathering of the GAA for their end of season review, and an addendum added to that invitation which makes it impossible for us to attend.
To ask journalists to attend and report on a meeting where the chairman has the authority to render any part of the discussions to be “in camera retrospectively” is just a step too far in censure and control.
Have relationships between the Donegal GAA and the local press reached a stage where they don’t trust us to tell it as it is? I would have thought not. The coverage by the media in Donegal, albeit probably the largest media per head of population in the entire country, is generally very favourable to the GAA, covering all aspects of the Association from underage, fund-raising, right through to the high profile events such as the Donegal senior team.
As Naomh Ultan clubman Terence McGinley says elsewhere on this page, the GAA needs the press and the press needs the GAA. There is no reason why they should be at odds.
Was it deliberate that conditions were attached to the invitation in order to ensure that the press would not attend on Sunday?
Earlier in the summer a similar invite with conditions was extended to the media to attend Co. Committee (Co. Board) meetings. That invite was declined for much the same reason that the invitation to Sunday’s GAA Co. Convention was declined.
Did the Co. Executive think that the local media would take up the invitation this time around with the same conditions attached?
These are changed times indeed in the GAA world and Donegal are making headlines again for the wrong reasons.
Has the press changed that much since 1990 and should the GAA be afraid of them?
Me thinks they are overreacting.