Congress report creates little excitement

GAA Director General, Paraic Duffy, presented his annual report recently and it is due to be discussed at the annual Congress in Portlaoise in the middle of April.

GAA Director General, Paraic Duffy, presented his annual report recently and it is due to be discussed at the annual Congress in Portlaoise in the middle of April.

The report is extremely comprehensive and covers multiple topics, all of which are very relevant to the well-being of the GAA.

The annual report from the GAA’s Director General is an important document for the Association, outlining the prime activities of the year under review plus identifying the key challenges that lie ahead for the GAA.

The content in every annual report is relevant to all members and stakeholders in the GAA. How come then that the Director General’s annual report receives such little commentary from the broad GAA community?

The report gets little attention at County Board meetings around the country, but most worryingly of all, most years it gets a muted response also from Congress delegates.

It must be frustrating for any Director General to spend so much time preparing his annual report and then see it receive minimal comment from Congress delegates.

We had a similar situation with Michael Delaney’s recent report to the Leinster Convention, while some months ago Ned Quinn’s report to the Kilkenny Convention was accepted without comment.

Get attention it deserves

Maybe at the upcoming GAA Congress in Portlaoise, Paraic Duffy’s report will get the attention it deserves. I hope it does, because most of the issues addressed by the Director General are hugely important.

The upcoming Portlaoise Congress will be historic in that major changes are anticipated for future gatherings of GAA delegates.

For a start Congress will take place earlier in the year (most likely in February) and it will be held in Croke Park, unless there is a specific request from a county to host it.

The most contentious issue, though, is likely to centre on the size of county delegations. Congress currently has about 330 delegates with voting rights and many hold the view that this is far too many to enable fair and balanced debate.

Kilkenny, for example, currently has four delegates plus its Central Council delegate. Cork on the other hand has 11 delegates in total. The proposal is for four delegates (to include the county chairman and secretary) from each county plus its Central Council delegate.

This change would reduce the number of Congress delegates by one third to around 220. It is a sensible proposal, but there is no guarantee it will be passed as it will require many delegates voting against their own presence at the 2013 GAA Congress.

Over the years many counties failed to comply with procedures of having two delegates under 21 years of age. Under another proposal that will no longer be a requirement as a special Youth Congress will now be held annually to facilitate feedback from the younger members of the Association.

Another potentially contentious proposal deals with the submission of motions. It is proposed that a special group review all motions submitted and provide advice on their compliance with rules and procedures.

Support proposal

This task was previously undertaken (to a significant degree) by the former Presidents, but it is now felt that a more active internal GAA committee which has an on-going remit in relation to GAA rules is better equipped to deal with the validation of motions.

As a former GAA President I fully support this proposal. The further one moves away from ones time as President, the more difficult it is to keep abreast of current GAA rules and regulations.

It is best, therefore, to leave the adjudication on the validity of motions and the provision of advice on such matters to those with the necessary expertise.

The revamping of Congress is essential to ensure that the annual gathering of GAA delegates delivers more meaningful debate on issue that concern the Association.

Hopefully with a new format, GAA Congresses from 2013 will finally get to debate the really important issues outlined in future reports from the GAA Director General.