Congress to add numbers

MOVES aimed at establishing the actual membership of the GAA will be considered at a Special Congress in Croke Park on Saturday.

Delegates will debate the findings of a high-powered sub-committee chaired by former President Jack Boothman and vote on a number of key recommendations.

“We hope to set up the framework to achieve the true membership, but it will still depend on club officers doing their work properly,’’ he said.

Mr Boothman worked with Central Council members Gerry Brady (Dublin) and Ciaran McDermott (Sligo), both lawyers, along with Ulster Secretary Danny Murphy and Cork Secretary Frank Murphy, both regarded as experts in the rules and two of the sharpest minds in the Association. Their work has been ongoing for many years.

“The net result of what we are trying to do is that everyone who purports to be a member of a club and the Association will have an identification number.

“The first time he signs an application form and it is accepted, he will be given an ID and that will be computer-based in Croke Park. No matter where he goes, that number will always stay with him.’’

The Special Congress will be asked to endorse two types of membership - youth and adult. In a change from current practice, a youth becomes a member when he first plays in a recognised competition for a club in the U-12 grade (instead of U-16). And in all initial applications from youths under the age of 18, a parental signature will be (legally) required.

Another proposal relates to the registration of club members at the start of the year. Under new proposals, this will not be required to be carried annually - other than for notification to be received of changes or additions to the list. However, an annual fee will still need to be paid.

Against the background of talk of ‘paper’ clubs being registered for the specific purpose of All-Ireland final ticket allocations, Mr Boothman accepts there are anomalies in the registration progress - even a suspicion that the ‘true’ figures are not sent on to Croke Park.

“That can be eliminated if it is done by electronic means, one of the recommendations to Special Congress.’’

A fee of €2 for membership of the Association will be proposed, to be incorporated in the annual club membership. “We have huge support, but our membership does not reflect that support,’’ added Mr Boothman.

“How do you measure it? Is it the fellow who stumps up his annual membership fee to join his club, works for them and attends the AGM, or is the person who occasionally supports the club, throws in a pound or two, follows their teams and the county?

“We are endeavouring to set a true figure.’’

In his report to this year’s Congress, Director-General Liam Mulvihill pointed out that registration fees in the previous year totalled around €315,000. This equated to only 157,000 members worldwide.

“It is proposed that a review of All-Ireland ticket allocations be done on the basis of membership as submitted and paid. It is evident from these figures that all registration fees are not being collected and returned.’’

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