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

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.

Larger figure
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.

“I can’t be certain before all of the information comes back from the counties but my guess would be that a lot of these figures may be based on old or historical practices where for instance clubs might have grouped together for the purpose of fielding minor teams or putting together a hurling team in a football area and situations like that.”

Such temporary teams at adult level still require a club structure before they can enter county championships. The relevant provision in the Official Guide is in Chapter Three at 3.1 (c) which states: “A club shall be a unit eligible to participate in a senior, intermediate or junior championship competition.”

According to Duffy other entitlements based on club numbers tend to reflect the lower numbers on the Club Wall.

“There would be no advantage in exaggerating the number of clubs for the purposes of the Injury Scheme contributions, as it’s based on teams and the purpose is to ensure that players are all covered.

“In relation to All-Ireland tickets (allocation of which is also based on club numbers) my understanding from files of previous applications is that counties apply on the basis of club numbers in keeping with what’s on the Club Wall rather than the higher figure.”

There have previously been efforts made to reduce by rule the numbers attending congress but to date they haven’t found favour. Two years ago Central Council proposed a motion to the GAA’s annual congress that would have entailed restricting all counties with Central Council representation to a delegation of four and those overseas units, which don’t have that representation, to two delegates.

The idea just about managed to secure a third of the vote (the cut-off point below which motions can’t be re-submitted for another three years) – by 64 per cent to 36.


MUNSTER 469 645
Clare 53 84 8
Cork 154 259 10
Kerry 71 73 7
Limerick 70 101 10
Tipperary 72 72 7
Waterford 49 56 6

CONNACHT 226 212
Galway 87 80 8
Leitrim 24 24 4
Mayo 56 50 5
Roscommon 33 32 4
Sligo 26 26 4

LEINSTER 559 685
Carlow 29 33 4
Dublin 90 134 10
Kildare 49 57 6
Kilkenny 43 41 4
Laois 46 46 5
Longford 24 27 4
Louth 42 42 4
Meath 59 59 6
Offaly 44 61 6
Westmeath 45 47 5
Wexford 49 93 9
Wicklow 39 45 5

ULSTER 374 584
Antrim 45 108 10
Armagh 51 56 6
Cavan 44 59 6
Derry 40 60 6
Donegal 40 63 6
Down 48 70 7
Fermanagh 23 50 5
Monaghan 34 50 5
Tyrone 49 68 7

OVERSEAS 264 391
Asia 17 22 4
Aus/NZ 39 64 6
Britain 63 83 28
[London, Herts, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Scotland]
Canada 18 19 4
Europe 33 71 7
New York 27 40 4
North America 67 92 9

TOTAL 1,892 2,518

= Clubs on Croke Park’s Club Wall.
OA = Officially affiliated clubs for purposes of congress registration.
Del = Size of delegation at 2014 annual congress – not including where applicable a county’s Central Council representative.
Delegates are based on one delegate per 10 clubs, to a maximum of 10 per county and a minimum of four

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