GAA is far from misogynistic
Sir, – The Gaelic Athletic Association is many things to many different people.
One thing it does not purport to be is perfect or without room to adapt, innovate and improve in an effort to ensure we remain relevant in Irish society and crucially to those who play and engage in our games and cultural activities.
Our organisation is fuelled almost entirely on the volunteer energy provided by 700,000 members, both here and in pockets around the globe.
However, for all the things it is or purports to be, it is not misogynistic, as alleged by Prof Orla Muldoon (Opinion & Analysis, December 30th).
The GAA has no female playing members, bar a small number who play our small-sided juvenile Go-Games, where ladies football and camogie teams do not exist to cater for them, and those who play handball and rounders. The vast majority of girls and women playing camogie and football do so under the banners of An Cumann Camogaíochta and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association with our support.
Both of these organisations are independent sporting bodies recognised by Sport Ireland who benefit from the use of GAA facilities and other administrative GAA supports but who organise their games and activities under different rules and their own constitutions.
In many cases, our clubs operate a “one club model” where all members and teams are viewed as one unit and which mirrors in spirit the memorandum of understanding that exists between the GAA and our sister organisations at national level.
A tangible example of this co-operation is the 27,692 girls (39 per cent of total attendance) who attended our Kellogg’s Cúl Camps in 2020.
Both of those organisations are represented on our management committee and attend our annual congress.
Any idea that the GAA would attempt to swallow up or “bounce” these organisations into Cumann Lúthchleas Gael would be both disrespectful and naive in the furtherance of enhanced relations and the playing of Gaelic games, regardless of code.
It is for those sporting bodies to speak for themselves but I would suggest that they would publicly acknowledge that no other sporting entities benefit from the use of our facilities in the same way they do.
Similarly, the idea that the GAA is any way responsible for the broadcast arrangements of either ladies football and camogie is naive.
The GAA partnered with the 20 x 20 campaign in an effort to provide profile and awareness to a campaign that aimed to elevate attendance, coverage and participation levels in female sport before the end of 2020.
Leaving the issue of playing to one side, can the GAA do more to attract talented females into management positions, such as Tracey Kennedy (Cork) or Róisín Jordan (Tyrone), to mention but two? Undoubtedly.
Getting the legion of female volunteers at club, county and provincial level to climb the GAA administrative ladder has to be a priority for our organisation to ensure we are more reflective of our membership and society as a whole.
However, when you recruit the vast bulk of your volunteer officers from your pool of retired players – almost exclusively male – that brings with it challenges.
Our organisation deserves critical analysis and constructive criticism when it errs and falls short of the standards set by our members and wider society. However, it should be able to expect balance and research before outlandish and inaccurate observations make it into print. – Is mise,
Croke Park, Dublin 3.