GAA referee representatives have welcomed the progress made at a meeting with the Wexford county board, following the alleged assault of a match official at a Junior A football match last Sunday.
Dickie Murphy, a four-time All-Ireland final referee and a member of the Wexford referee's committee hailed the meeting as 'very constructive’ and he believes that there’s now a path forward for real change with how these incidents are dealt with.
Under this plan all clubs must hold a workshop for mentors from Under-11 to adult in their club in the next seven days where mentors must to go through a self-evaluation of their conduct towards match officials.
Wexford GAA will also propose at the next meeting of Central Council that a Special Congress be held to discuss the possibility of lifetime bans for verbal or physical threat to an official.
They are also calling on the association to commence a review and simplification of the GAA disciplinary system.
Murphy believes the outcome of the meeting represents real progress when it comes to referee safety.
"I think we had a very good meeting, a very constructive meeting with the county board," he told RTÉ Sport.
"In fairness to the county chairman Michael Martin, the whole management committee of the board was there and there was a huge turnout of referees.
"At the end of the meeting we decided that we’re going to referee next weekend and we came up with some very good initiatives that will hopefully be a template for other counties as well.
"Serious things have happened in other countries over the last few weeks as well and not playing games is probably not the answer but we need to do something that will help everyone.
"We’re finding it hard to get referees in all counties. We’re trying to attract referees, there’s recruitment campaigns going on and we’re trying to retain.
"So any kind of abuse be it online abuse, is not good, it doesn’t help the cause.
"It’s not a talking shop now, things have to be done. It’s going to have to really come from Croke Park in conjunction with the counties and if we want to get new referees or retain referees, that’s what we have to do."
Referee Jimmy Heavey, who was the target of an alleged assault earlier in the month at a Junior B hurling game was also positive about the meeting although he conceded that major changes could take time.
"I came out of [the meeting] thinking positive from it," he said.
"We did say what we need to be done, what we think should be done and we’re having another meeting in a couple of weeks' time and we’ll see what comes from it.
"We can’t just jump and change rules straight away, it has to go to a board and steps have to be taken, we understand that.
"It will look after clubs too, it’s not just referees, there’s innocent people at clubs too who work behind the scenes and you can’t just be branding everyone at the clubs."
Speaking about the alleged assault, Heavey admitted that the after-effects still linger and that he’s concerned that people are being put off taking up the referee’s whistle because of such incidents.
"You go out to do an honest, fair job and you look after two teams as best you can, keep them safe and keep them sound to progress onto a final and something like this happens. You question your own ability to do stuff.
"Mentally I’m pretty strong but it still leaves that doubt in your mind – when I blow this whistle is something going to happen? Where is this going to end? We need it to stop.
"I think we do a fair job everywhere we go, we try to, and this kind of thing has to end.
"It will probably stop other people coming into it, younger people. We’re trying to get people in to do refereeing and it’s very hard to get them in with this kind of thing happening."