The GAA voted overwhelmingly on a motion from the Gaelic Players Association to prioritize integration between the association, camogie and women’s football. The debate was unanimously favourable, although 10% of delegates voted against.
GPA co-chair Maria Kinsella offered, saying “equality will never be achieved as long as there are three different governing bodies”. She called on the GAA “to make integration a priority” with an action plan and timelines.
Former chairman Liam O’Neill spoke in favour, pointing out that the GAA during his tenure had been the first to suggest moving forward on the issue, but although camogie had accepted the offer to discuss the matter, the women’s football had declined.
“The refusal of my offer to explore integration has been the biggest disappointment of my presidency,” he said before declaring: “There is no force more unstoppable than an idea whose l time has come”.
A number of speakers spoke in support of it: Ciarán McCavana, chairman of Antrim, who called on Congress to “call out people who don’t want equality”; former Cork president Tracey Kennedy said she was looking forward to attending the ‘convention of a fully integrated association’; Europe delegate Tony Bass, who echoed the call for a “roadmap that leads to real results”.
On Friday, the Camogie Association announced that a similar motion would go to its convention in April. It would ensure that:
– organizational and governance structures reflect an integrated Gaelic Games organization
– gender equity and its implementation is recognized as a core value of the Gaelic Games family, promoting it to stakeholders, government and citizens.
– equitable access to full participation in Gaelic Games across all units of the organization
– the promotion of our Gaelic games is reinforced on an equitable, diversified and cross-community basis.
Official updates on progress will also be provided regularly to Árd Chomhairle de camogie and the Uachtarán will provide a full progress report to the congress.
In his address to the convention, GAA President Larry McCarthy addressed the issue of the merger with reference to the upcoming update to the association’s strategic plan for the next five years and reaffirmed that the GAA ” is ambitious to make this happen”.
“In the coming weeks, we will publish our strategic plan for the next five years,” he said. “It was an extensive process of consultation and debate and I am extremely grateful to the group of people who have worked on it over the past 11 months or so.
“In the plan, there are a number of priorities, including six codes, an association. This is our ambition, and work in this direction is well under way. This work builds on the co-operation that takes place on a daily basis through Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and projects, such as the recently published report on Training and Coach Education in Gaelic Games .
“The assistance provided to the Camogie association in the field of commercial activity is an example of this. Conversations have also started with those involved in the merger of Irish sports organizations with structures similar to the Camogie Association, the LGFA and the GAA in particular.
“Understanding how to best merge the middle tiers of each association will be critical to the process. This process will not be easy; indeed, it will be quite difficult in many ways, but we are ambitious to make it happen.
“Access to gaming facilities in a larger organization will be a challenge. Arguably, access to facilities is currently a challenge. Given that we are in this magnificent dome, would it be appropriate for us to investigate the possibility to invest and locate a number of these structures strategically across the country.”
At Saturday morning’s Central Council meeting, the new game development funding model was agreed in principle, subject to further engagement with counties. The mathematical formula was devised by a subcommittee, chaired by Shane Flanagan, the GAA’s director of practices and games, which defines how counties qualify for the funds.
It combines the number of registered players, the number of teams and clubs with project-based applications.
Intended to remedy the disproportion of development funds granted to Dublin over the last two decades, it aims to establish a method of evaluating budgets which will be the same for all.