Jarlath Burns, who is standing as a candidate in the GAA presidential election, has said that he wants to help repair the relationship between the GAA and GPA.
Speaking to Off The Ball on Wednesday, Burns claimed that the Gaelic Players Association are “hated and detested” among county boards but advised the GPA to explain why their work is important to those same county boards.
“I think, operationally, the GAA are excellent. My son as a player will testify to that.
“Strategically, it’s been a problem in the sense that you have this highly professional operation in the GPA butting up against old-style county chairs that feel like they’re almost being bullied by the demands of the GPA,” the former Armagh player said.
Burns said that he advised the GPA CEO Paul Flynn that the GPA should turn on the charm with county boards in a bid to mend the fractures that have emerged between them and the rest of the GAA.
“When I met Paul Flynn I said, ‘you definitely have an image problem amongst the GAA.’
“I mean the GPA are hated, detested in the counties by all the volunteers and I don’t like that image that they have. It is not good for the association.
“My advice to the GPA was, ‘you go out and you go attend the next meeting of county chairs and talk to them about the work you’re doing and explain to them the work that you do,’” he said.
He added that it is important for all the parties to come together again because ultimately they all want what is best for players.
“Try and get a situation where we’re all working in partnership because I don’t agree with the politics of the bogeyman. That’s populism.
“It’s too easy to blame someone and say, ‘that person’s to blame, that organisation is to blame.’ That's populism.
“Life is far more complex than that and we need to work in partnership. We have devolved one of our [core] values - player welfare - to the GPA and we should work with them a wee bit better in order to get them to achieve that,” Jarlath Burns said.