Plus the other six, which are the All-Ireland finals. The list includes the All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Final and All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final, which is a tremendous step forward.
As the Minister said in his statement, there has been a massive increase in attendance at these events. It is phenomenal to think that as many as 46,286 people attended the senior and intermediate ladies football finals in Croke Park, which is an increase of approximately 13,000 on the 2016 final. With the broadcasting unit, this is all going to act as a tremendous encouragement. My granddaughter has taken up camogie etc. and I believe that young people seeing their peers play in Croke Park and the matches being broadcast on national television will lead to a phenomenal increase in the number of women playing camogie and football. Funnily enough, I am not a great advocate of women's rugby. I am not over enthusiastic about it from a health point of view. Soccer and football are much different but I am not a medical expert. I would not totally encourage women to play rugby but the jury is out in that particular regard. Rugby is a very physical game. I think there are certain games more suited to women and I do not mean to be discriminatory. I mean from the point of view of the future health of women rugby players.
The Minister has done the State some service in this particular regard. I welcome his officials here today. The way that he went about this matter, the consultations that have taken place and the number of submissions that have been made certainly make it something on which we can unanimously agree is a good day's work. I presume the matches will be broadcast from 2018 onwards.
Wearing another hat, I must declare an interest in a certain establishment called Castlecoote Lodge, bar and replica Dáil and Seanad lounge. Broadcasting sports, from a rural point of view, helps rural businesses, which are under pressure from many areas. Live broadcasts of sports are phenomenally successful. These events attract people. One can see the interest in both camogie and football by the attendance figures. I know that the viewership would be very large, not only at home but abroad as well via the Internet, which is a wonderful phenomena. I was in Liverpool the other day to attend the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly like the Leas-Chathaoirleach. While I was away I could listen to Shannonside Radio, for instance. Last Monday I listened to the news and to a live radio broadcast by Anne Norris on Shannonside Radio. As the Minister can confirm, technology means that someone in San Francisco, for instance, can watch live broadcasts. Technology has created a global village and we are now all one. An event in any part of the world can now be broadcast on the web. That is why broadband is very important, which is the other portfolio under the remit of the Minister.
Last night, I met the head of Eircom at a reception. He pointed out the number of connections through eir. I hope that he will attend a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment. I say that to outline and support what the Minister has said about the whole area of broadband and its development.
Without further ado, I want to say, "Well done" to the Minister and congratulate him. He has many portfolios and this one is being handled extremely well. Future generations of camogie and football players will benefit from this legislation. This day, 19 October 2017, is a very important day for sporting events and the recognition of women in sport, which is vitally important.
Men's senior football finals have been broadcast on television for the past 50 years but this is the first time this is guaranteed to be free-to-air, which is a great success story. Well done and congratulations.