GAA Football

Switch to GAA management committee makes sense says former president Aoghan O Fearghail

Health of the public is the priority now says former president Aoghan O Fearghail
Andy Watters

WHATEVER form the GAA season in 2020 takes will be dependent on guidance from the HSE (Health Service Executive) in the Republic and the NHS north of the border, the Irish News has learned.

A Special Congress will be held today in which 67 delegates will be vote remotely on whether to pass emergency powers to a 16-man management committee who will then have the authority to bypass Congress and determine the immediate future of the Association including what form, if any, this year's hurling and football Championships will take.

The Congress is essential because, at present, there is nothing the GAA rules to deal with the current situation which has been dictated by the nationwide, and worldwide, response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At present, only Congress can change, amend or make rules and, as it attempts to cope in extraordinary circumstances, the GAA plans to streamline the decision-making process to a 16-man committee – including President John Horan, director general Tom Ryan – which will make decisions on behalf of the Association.

The Championships are not expected to start before July and that appears to be a best-case scenario.

“No-one knows what will happen and the Association will follow health guidelines,” said a spokesman.”

Former president Aoghan O Fearghail will be one of the 67 delegates who will vote in today's unprecedented Congress. It had been reported that the Drumgoon clubman would be part of the management group but he confirmed that this was not the case.

“The management group will be made up of the current management,” he said.

“Absolutely I will be behind the motion. In an emergency situation we can't do anything that is going to make things more difficult, we should make it easier (to make decisions) rather than more difficult.

“I don't think there's any other way. We have a very democratic way of making decisions in the GAA but these are not normal circumstances, this is an emergency. Our games are always our priority and they will remain so but they involve people so the health and wellbeing of the people of this country is the priority at the moment.

“We have to make it easy for the management to make decisions in real time and that is what this (Special Congress) is about, just giving them that flexibility and we trust them. We have good management in the GAA and we always have had.

“This will enable the management to make a decision more quickly in the interests of the people of Ireland and that's the most important thing – that peoples' health is considered first.”

The new management committee will take control for a period of 12 weeks, after which it is envisaged that the decision-making structure will revert to the current method.

“This proposal transfers, in exceptional circumstances, the power of Congress to the GAA Management Committee, with strict parameters and safeguards,” read a statement.

“This is the means by which the Association will give itself the capacity to respond to the current situation and, unless needed for a further period, our structures revert back to the standard model after 12 weeks.

“This measure would also be applicable in any future similar emergency. Details from tomorrow's Special Congress will be communicated to the media afterwards.”

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