Prenty highlights depopulation concerns
Rural depopulation is now “one of the greatest challenges facing the Association”, according to Connacht secretary John Prenty, who has also called on the GAA to clarify the rule on clubs amalgamating due to reduced numbers.
It’s just one of the issues highlighted by Prenty in his report to Connacht Convention, set for tomorrow evening in Roscommon, and which will also be attended by members of the Football Review Committee (FRC), who continue to campaign for the support of their playing and disciplinary proposals ahead of Congress in March.
“Almost on a weekly basis we see the demise of the local post office, the local bank branch, the local shop, the local cattle mart, the rural pub, the closure or amalgamation of schools, the formation of church clusters,” says Prenty, “and the major scourge of emigration and rural depopulation throughout our province. The GAA is the cornerstone of Irish society providing men, women and children of all ages with a vital social and sporting outlet. However, in recent years there have been major changes in rural life in particular.
“All of these have combined to have a devastating effect on the communities most involved in our Association. Are amalgamations the answer? Which is the greatest challenge, to amalgamate with a neighbouring club or clubs and lose our identity, or to fight for our name and pride of place, and play in competitions of reduced numbers?
“Those are issues that need to be to be discussed. Rule 3.8 outlines the process of amalgamating two or more clubs. Is this amalgamating forever? How does one get out of this amalgamation situation and go back to where one traditionally was, if the other partner in the amalgamation wishes to retain the status quo? Divorce is very difficult in an amalgamation.”
Prenty supports the FRC’s main proposals adding “the most disturbing trend in modern Gaelic football has been the increase in cynical play” which “has the potential to drive away our young and our most skilful players from the game”.