Dublin to look for "provincial status" via new strategic plan


GAELIC GAMES:THE DUBLIN County Board are to seek “provincial status” for both funding and administration purposes as part of their new six-year strategic plan, the full details of which were announced in Croke Park last night.

In a broad and somewhat bold plan – entitled Unleashing “The Blue Wave”: A Strategy for Dublin GAA 2011-2017 – the central theme is Dublin’s ever-changing demographics, which is actually described as a “time bomb”, and thus presents several unique challenges to the county board.

According to Dublin’s Strategic Committee, who produced the document, “the financial resources that are currently available to the Dublin County Committee are inadequate to enable Dublin GAA to give effect to the initiatives identified as appropriate in the strategic review”.

The plan, which runs to 86 pages, also claims that there should be a mutual recognition of the interdependent relationship between Dublin’s ambitions for the GAA in the capital city and the overall wellbeing of the Association.

“It will require Dublin County Board to step up to its responsibility to implement the strategic initiatives recommended in this review. It will also require Central Council to embrace a different funding model, one which addresses the strategic significance of Dublin. One way of addressing this issue is for the GAA to extend provincial status to Dublin for certain purposes.”

Among those attending last night’s launch was GAA president Christy Cooney and the director general Páraic Duffy, who gave their broad support for the aims of the plan.

Dublin County Board chairman Andy Kettle also outlined in more basic terms the exact priorities of the next six years.

“From a financial point of view we do need to be pushing for provincial status,” said Kettle.

“Right now we have about 20 per cent of the country’s population in the Dublin County Board area. So it doesn’t make sense that we should still be considered one -32th of the country, rather than one-fifth.

“I think it’s a realistic plan, but also something I know will need goodwill, and the backing of Croke Park to get it through, because something like this will need to go to Congress. So it’s up to us to campaign for it in the right way, and explain it to the other delegates.

“But coupled with that we would see that Dublin should have constant representation on Coisti Banaistí (Management Committee), and also on Leinster Council. That’s not happening at the moment, but we would feel Dublin should have that representation by right, rather than by election.

“There’s been a lot of work and thought gone into this over the last two years. But we have the plan down on paper now, and the implementing of it is now our priority. It’s going to stretch us to the limit, both at county level, and at the implementation committee level.”

It remains to be seen what level of support Dublin will get from the other provincial counties, but in the meantime there appears to be a clear awareness of the issues among the top brass of the Association.

“The facts and figures speak for themselves,” said the GAA president, “and if we are not well organised, ambitious and competitive in our main urban bases, and in Dublin in particular, there is a gaping hole in our Association.

“As a city and county Dublin has always held a special place in the Association that extends far beyond the numbers game that goes hand in hand with capital city demographics.

“The playing and administrative centre of the Association is located here and we all have happy memories of Croke Park and Dublin, no matter where it is we call home. The superb network of clubs in Dublin has provided a sporting infrastructure to behold that otherwise would not exist.”

Duffy was a little more hesitant in singling Dublin out for special attention, but agreed there were unique challenges and opportunities within the Dublin area.

“Croke Park does not accord a favoured status to any unit,” said Duffy, “but it would be denying demographic facts not to recognise that Dublin is a region of vital importance to the GAA.

“According to preliminary figures from Census 2011, almost 1.3 million people live in Dublin city and county, which represents 20 per cent of the entire population of Ireland. It is a simple statistical fact that Dublin constitutes, in terms of population catchment area, the single largest county unit in the Association, and is, therefore, a region in which the health of the GAA has a profound impact on the wider health of the Association.”

The strategic plan also claims that Dublin has no material surplus assets which could be monetised for reinvestment, although consideration could be given to the possible sale of O’Toole Park.

It reads: “With the exception of a trial venture with Croke Park for the 2011 Dublin Spring Series. Dublin, like all counties, has not traditionally benefited in any meaningful respect in gate receipts from senior inter-county games despite attracting large attendances.

“This clearly fails to align responsibility for promoting the games with the resultant increased income streams.”

The Dublin county committee has traditionally operated a balanced budget with all revenues (which have been running at €5.2 million per year) being fully reinvested in current organisational and development initiatives. However, Dublin’s main source of revenue is from its principle commercial sponsor, Vodafone.

In conclusion the strategic plan claims that Central Council will achieve a strong return on its investment in Dublin GAA.

“In planning for the longer term the investment from Central Council will help Dublin achieve an increased market share over and above the increase in the population.

“This increase in market share and the greater interest in Gaelic games will in turn continue to generate much-needed income for other units of the Association from increased attendances at games.”

Nine key strategic objectives & themes

(as outlined in the Dublin Strategic Plan)

1) Develop local area regional plans and appropriate club structures for the 10 regional areas.

2) Maximise participation in Gaelic games in Dublin.

3) Supporting the club.

4) Resourcing the volunteer.

5) Creating the bridge from participation to inter-county success.

6) Ensuring the provision of appropriate facilities.

7) Investing in the commercial potential of the Dublin GAA brand.

8) Procuring the financial resources necessary to develop Dublin GAA.

9) Providing a first-class management and governance structure for Dublin GAA.