Longford Leader Columnist Mattie Fox: Worn system of GAA delegates electing officers is past its best days

Mattie Fox

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Mattie Fox

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Longford Leader Columnist Mattie Fox: Worn system of GAA delegates electing officers is past its best days

This column has more than once already given the opinion that it was scandalous that Cork County Board could receive €30m for the refurbishment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

This column has more than once already given the opinion that it was scandalous that Cork County Board could receive €30m for the refurbishment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh when Cork should be more than able to support such a scheme themselves.

It seemed tantamount to encouraging them to spend more.

Maybe Cork County board are too innocent for that to ever cross their collective minds.

In any case, Croke Park have now discovered that all is not well in Cork, and are going to be forced to take over the running of the stadium for the foreseeable future.

This includes digging up the pitch, and laying an entirely new one!

It could take as long as twenty years before all has been restored to order.

At least this means that people who actually know about handling and administering real money are now in charge, and that must be good for the nerves of anyone proposing to trade in the stadium, or indeed, play in the stadium.

Hurling, music, or football in that order, will benefit.

Many parks around the country are now being seen in a different light, as a consequence of the Cork experience.

In the GAA reality is long overdue.

For far too long the GAA has been limping along in local counties, from one decision to another, with little cohesion or real knowledge at the top in county boards. This has happened in so many counties that it’s quite embarrassing, but shouldn’t be.

The GAA is dealing with colossal amounts of money annually, and yet, only a few in any county board that I know of has any real idea about the importance of handling such amounts of money.

The old, and now worn, system of delegates electing officers is well and truly past its best days, yet there’s nothing that would replace it that would represent the ethos of the GAA.

Canvassing pre-election is the order of the day, yet it is banned according to the rules of the GAA!

The harsh fact is that administrators are elected to county board office without anyone caring whether or not they have any clue about administration or finance, and that is the real problem.

Much more important to get tickets now and then.

We keep forgetting that the GAA is now business, big business.

Good, well intentioned people who have spent their lives working voluntarily for the GAA, eventually climb up the system, and suddenly they decide they want to seek election.

Often this intention is well formed early on in their careers, but usually that is as far as their ambition is realised, yet, some who are more deliberate and calculating are successful, and that’s the great thing about the GAA.

No longer is the GAA a truly amateur association, it’s overtly commercial, and nowadays, in line with the task in hand many people deservedly receive a good salary - as it should be.

But, as of yet, nobody has bothered to ask what sort of person is being elected? Are they qualified to do what is now quite a complex task, looking after office affairs, and administering the machinations of clever outsiders from time to time, etc, etc.

Croke Park wouldn’t hire just anyone, yet they are happy to have obedient servants occupying officer positions all over the country.

Of course compliant people are usually in awe of those who rule.

Croke Park allows compliant amateurs run units dotted around the country.

The system of governance is loose in the GAA, and that actually keeps everyone happy.

The majority of officers being elected are good solid GAA people, with the very best of intentions, but equally, there are now many in the GAA who don’t really care much about players, or indeed anything that requires much focused attention.

They’re really politicians, in another guise.

It’s time the GAA started being honest, and faced up to the reality.

The GAA loves secrecy, it’s treated like sound hostile protection.

But anyone scared of transparency, must have something to hide.

Simple as that. No argument, since the GAA is fundamentally run for the people, and by the people.

No delegate, or officer, should tolerate anything less.

Maybe they are the ones who should ask more questions, seek more information, and make sure that everything is actually as it is being presented.

But first the GAA must find, and appoint, suitably qualified personnel in every county in Ireland to take responsibility for matters of finance, who is answerable to Croke Park, which is already overrun by well educated experts in the area of administration and finance.

It would put paid to some of the horror stories we hear about officers not knowing enough to make a decision, ending up paying well over the odds for relatively simple work.