Dear Member, Coach, Parent, Player and Supporter,
One of the most worrying trends developing in team sports and particularly acute at underage levels is the difficulty governing bodies are having in refereeing recruitment.
This is a problem in more than just Gaelic Games.
The reasons for this are simple.
Referees are being subjected to a despicable, disgraceful and detrimental level of abuse.
Without a referee there is no game.
Without a referee there is no Championship.
Without a referee there is no glory.
And sport, as we know it, will grind to a halt.
It is at crisis point and just like climate change unless we change our habits the problem will become unmanageable.
We have all heard the stories.
Referees being attacked, physically assaulted, verbally abused, threatening and abusive language and this all stems from over zealous players, coaches, managers, parents and supporters.
It is no longer acceptable.
We are approaching an apocalypse in terms of recruitment. The genuine possibility of fixtures being postponed, cancelled, unfulfilled is now a very real one.
And yet in the face of all of this: the abuse continues. Madness.
It has to stop and it has to stop now.
The Executive of St Pats are advocating a 'Zero Tolerance' approach to referee abuse and it is the Executive's view that the harshest internal suspensions and penalties will be served on anyone found guilty of abusing Referees, at any level, from here on.
Will this result in an upsurge in recruitment? No.
It may, however, contribute in some small way to stem the tide of bad culture that has grown up around Referees and their role on matchday.
The 'Give Respect' strategy is a two-way street and it's high time we started to practice the message in a meaningful manner.
St Pats Exec
Here's the link to the article that appeared in the Irish Examiner about the situation in Leinster - https://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/gaa/arid-40782960.html