GAA still decides from the top down, says CPA chairman Micheal Briody
DESPITE its success in securing a split season in the GAA, the Club Players' Association chairman argues that the Congress system doesn't work.
The CPA has dissolved itself at an EGM, after achieving its aim of 'fixing the fixtures' - but Micheal Briody believes a similar body may be required again in the future:
"If there's another issue down the road, be it with fixtures or something else, there can be a group of like-minded Gaels get together as an advocacy lobby group and lobby Croke Park.
"Unfortunately that's a more successful route than bringing a motion to your club and trying to get it to the floor of Congress to get passed.
"Because unless it comes from top down, from Management [Committee] as the split season has done now, through the Fixtures Taskforce, then change doesn't happen within the GAA, not within Congress as it is currently structured."
Meath man Briody pointed out that only a change in attitude from the GAA's top brass brought in the split season, with the CPA having been repeatedly knocked back before the coronavirus crisis last year:
"We commend [recent President] John Horan, Tom Ryan [Director-General], and the Fixtures Taskforce for changing route, bringing in the split season when they saw how it rolled out during the pandemic.
"It's neither here nor there that we advocated a split season back in 2017. Myself, Derek Kavanagh, and Liam Griffin presented it to [then GAA President] Aogan O Fearghail and Paraic Duffy [then Director-General] and were told, no, it's way too radical, it'll never work…"
Briody contends that the GAA's democratic system certainly doesn't work, recalling:
"We would have been told many times, 'Bring the motions'. We brought the motions and tested the system and showed that didn't work – because those motions got stopped. There were blockages along the way: at county conventions, right up the whole way to the floor of Congress.
"That doesn't genuinely work for change, but we have put a blueprint there which shows that this is something, if things are not kept in check, and if clubs and the grassroots are not looked after, then the CPA model is there for others to take up the baton. We'd be happy to share our constitution and share our experiences in due course. Hopefully it'll never be needed again."
Briody admitted to a sense of surprise that the split season has been agreed so quickly:
"Four years on, did we think we'd get it this far? No, to be quite honest. We didn't think we'd get this within four years, so we're delighted to do that. We surpassed our expectations.
"I'd have assumed that I'd have been passing the baton on as chairman this year. I stayed on last year, having done three years, the lads convinced me to stay on. Having the objective achieved within that period of time is very satisfying.
"It's one of the biggest, most significant motions ever to get past a Congress. Look, it went through by acclaim, there were no dissenters… It went through very quickly and smoothly.
"Any of the previous big issues, like Rule 42, would have significant debate and appeared at previous Congresses before they got across the line. It was great to see it getting through with the backing of everyone."