Its that time of the year again! GAA officials will sit down at headquarters to debate 42 motions put forward by county boards and provincial councils across the association.
While motions proposed by three counties to debate the controversial TV rights issue have not made it to Congress 2018, here are three that may grab the headlines on February 23rd and 24th.
1. A ban on bookmaker sponsorship
Motion 1 from the Central Council proposes that betting firms will be prohibited from sponsoring GAA teams with effect from 2019.
Rule 1.15 from the 2017 Congress saw delegates vote by a landslide majority to prohibit players, management and officials from betting on games in which they are involved with heavy sanctions ranging from eight-week suspension to compete expulsion from the organisation.
This latest motion will seek to sever all future connections between gambling companies and the association.
“Sponsorship by a betting company of any competition, team, playing gear or facility is prohibited.”
While there are currently no inter-county teams sponsored by betting firms, Armagh’s Crossmaglen Rangers are perhaps the most high profile club team that are benefiting from a deal with a bookmakers, Bar One racing in their case.
The GAA’s health and community manager Colin Regan however believes that preventative action is required to stop the issue of gambling having negative effects on the association.
“Research shows that athletes are a particularly high-risk group when it comes to problem gambling, while we’re also aware that adolescents in Ireland are more likely to engage in gambling than adults, which is another worrying sign statistic as we strive look forward to protect their future health,” said Regan.
“Most units of the GAA are very socially aware so this won’t affect very many clubs and teams, however we feel it would be best practice to simply eliminate any link,” he added.
While it is difficult to accurately access how prevalent gambling is in GAA cirlces, high profile players such as Armagh’s Oisin McConville, Offaly’s Niall McNamee and more recently Galway’s Davy Glennon have openly highlighted the issue.
Should it be passed, the ban will prohibit the sponsorship of any GAA competition, team gear or facility by bookmakers.
In 2015, the GAA, through a submission to the Gambling Control Bill, called on the government to ban betting on all juvenile sporting events.
2. Defining a “melee”
An incident last year between Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald and Tipperary hurler Jason Forde saw the latter found guilty of “contributing to a melee.”
Forde was reportedly told when he asked for a definition of a melee that it involves “at least two” people, with county secretary Tim Floyd claiming that “they made it up on the spot.”
Motion 21, put forward by Tipperary’s Newport GAA club proposes the following definition for what such a coming together.
“A melee shall be defined as a minimum of five persons.”
Should it be agreed, the “five persons” will include players, managers, mentors, backroom team members etc.
The rule seeks to clarify such incidents that saw the Tipperary star receive a one match ban while the Wexford boss received an eight-week suspension for his role in the “melee.”
3. Voting transparency
The Club Players Association (CPA) have proposed a motion calling for transparency and accountability in relation to voting.
The proposal calls for votes of each delegate, be it at the Annual Congress or a Special Congress to be recorded and published in the minutes of the meeting.
CPA chairman Micheál Briody believes that rank-in-file GAA members need to be fully informed about decision making at the top end of the organisation.
“The motion on voting transparency will allow delegates to demonstrate clearly that the GAA is accountable to its members at the highest level of decision making,” said Briody to local media recently.
“We believe that it is in the interests of all the GAA membership that the Association is clearly transparent and accountable. Whatever motions come forward to Congress the membership need to be assured that they will receive a fair hearing and that any vote is clear and transparent,”
CPA chairman Micheál Briody.
Since last year’s Congress, only a 60 per cent majority is now required for motions to be deemed successful.
Senior columnist for GAA Wrap.