There appears to have been some (perhaps an understatement here) political maneuvering behind the scenes leading to the Irish Government announcing they would not foot the bill for Stadium Ireland. I understand that the Irish Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy, met with the Taoiseach (or prime minister), Berti Ahern, just before Tuesday's Cabinet meeting to indicate that he saw the validity of the case forwarded by Mary Harney, the Tánaiste (or deputy prime minister). The leader of the Progressive Democrats Ms Harney argument is that with the Government already facing severe political criticism over cutbacks in a range of areas, it should not be seen to have any involvement in funding the stadium.
The Taoiseach had prepared a proposal that the planned National Development Finance Agency would raise funds for the project. However, there are growing concerns within the Irish Government as to the usefulness of the proposed agency. When Ahern was faced by the combined view of the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, this idea was abandoned. The three went into the weekly Cabinet meeting where a number of Ministers offered their views on the issue. This appears have been a case of paying lip service as it soon became clear the decision had effectively already been made. This was a bit of a surprise to Government officials who believed that any compromise would include some Government funding of the project, either through direct Exchequer payments or the National Development Finance Agency.
Mary Hsrney has been against the plans since the start
The opposition party (Labour) were critical of the ads that were in the paper on Friday looking for expressions of interest in building of the new stadium. Labour's Pat Rabbitte said yesterday that the advertisements seeking interest from the private sector in building the stadium seemed "deliberately crafted to leave open the prospect of the State gifting 500 acres of land . . . to whomsoever is willing to erect a national stadium". The Irish government will be using every trick in the book to salvage their end of the joint bid. They have even attached strings to the £20million funding allocated to the GAA to finish off Croke Park. This may be the lever that opens GAA HQ's gates to EURO2008.