Too many delegates clog up congress
Representation should be based on actual membership and not include ‘pop-up’ clubs
GAA director general Páraic Duffy says “It is a matter of concern that the number of clubs registered does not seem to be an accurate reflection of the actual situation”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times
A kindly woman organises a surprise birthday party for a cantankerous old uncle. Having arranged everyone in their places, poised quietly pending the arrival, she welcomes him, guides him to a room and flicks on the lights.
There may be a few half-hearted cries of “Surprise!” but the effect is not as hoped for; instead a scowl and a bark: “What are you all doing here?”
GAA director general Páraic Duffy is not by nature cantankerous but he did pose the same question last month in his annual report, which he will present to congress.
With the Gaelic games season now in full flight and – miraculously – having lost virtually no fixtures to the apocalyptic weather, anyone could be forgiven for overlooking a significant alteration to the GAA calendar.
It won’t necessarily set pulses racing but this year’s annual congress will take place at the weekend. A switch in the association’s financial year end to October has prompted the decision to bring forward congress also by two months.
What are you all doing here?
The composition of congress is governed by rule 3.36, which specifies that representation is one delegate per 10 clubs, with various qualifications to cater for small and very large units. Three hundred and twenty delegates are due in Croke Park this weekend.
In his report, Duffy made the following point about annual congress:
Size of delegations
“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 or 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.”
How do these discrepancies arise? In counties where one of the games isn’t as strong as the other it’s not uncommon for an amalgamated team in the weaker code to be established in an area or for age-grade sides to be assembled from a number of clubs with low-population catchments.
To meet the requirements of Chapter 6 (Games and Competitions), these assembled teams count as clubs but obviously don’t have a fully independent existence nor a separate membership.