GAA congress delegation numbers facing revision
Central Council to review size of delegations based on actual club numbers at next meeting later this month
The GAA Director General Páraic Duffy raised some concerns about the numbers attending congress in this year’s annual report. photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Next year’s annual GAA congress looks set to feature a significant reduction in the number of delegates. This month’s Central Council meeting in a fortnight’s time will be considering the responses of counties to what is effectively an audit of active clubs within the GAA.
The size of congress delegations is based on the number of clubs in each county – one delegate for every 10 clubs – and if, as expected, that number turns out to be an exaggeration of the de facto situation within the counties adjustments will have to be made.
It was in his annual report to this year’s congress that the GAA Director General Páraic Duffy raised some concerns about the numbers attending congress, based not on the optimal size of the association’s highest decision making body but on the extent to which the numbers were in keeping with the rule book.
“One issue that has still not been addressed is the size of delegations. Previous efforts to reduce the size of congress and to change the voting representation petered out, but, whatever the ratio of clubs to votes, it is a matter of concern that the number of clubs registered does not seem to be an accurate reflection of the actual situation.
“Provincial Councils submit the number of registered clubs in the province to my office, and representation at Congress is based on these figures. However, these figures do not seem to reflect either the representation on the Club Wall nor Injury Scheme contributions.
“When Congress 2014 has ended, it will be time to look again at representation to ensure that it is equitable and totally democratic, and that it facilitates effective decision-making.”
There are discrepancies between the numbers of club on the Club Wall and those officially affiliated. According to the booklet (containing the annual report and finances), which was distributed before this year’s congress last February there are 2,518 affiliated clubs. According to the Club Wall the figure is 1,892.
The Club Wall is a striking display on either side of the Croke Park Museum entrance, unveiled over four years ago and which purports to feature the crest of every club in Ireland and abroad.
The figures below show how the numbers vary between the congress booklet and the Wall and how the congress delegations are virtually all identical with an entitlement based on the larger figure.
Speaking to The Irish Times yesterday, Duffy emphasised that he didn’t believe that there was deliberate exaggeration of club numbers but thinks that the figures have become distorted through the need to establish clubs for teams even though they don’t necessarily involve additional members.
He added that the purpose of asking Central Council to request updated figures from the counties was to make sure that the numbers attending congress were in keeping with the rule book.
“If we establish that the numbers are incorrect, then obviously we’re going to have to review where appropriate the size of delegations because they’re based on an incorrect premise. I think it will be useful to have an open discussion about this at Central Council and make sure that we go forward on the basis of one delegate for every 10 clubs.