Director General Páraic Duffy admitted yesterday that 2008 had been yet another year blighted by considerable disciplinary controversies despite the radical overhaul of procedures in recent years.
The Monaghan official accepted that the current five-tiered structure — referee, Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC), Central Hearings Commitee (CHC), Central Appeals Committee (CAC) and Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA) — places considerable demands on the members of the various committees and the question is now being asked whether those procedures are unnecessarily taxing.
A number of structural reforms have been suggested, including a system from Dr Jack Anderson from the School of Law in Queens University. A DRA member, Dr Anderson believes the current procedures are too unwieldy.
His argument is that individuals, clubs or counties will always seek to exhaust every avenue and that the wait for a final outcome is too protracted. This can be problematic given the abridged nature of a championship campaign.
Also, with so many committees ruling on the same issue, differing views are inevitable. There has even been debate as to the very role one of the committees should hold, as was the case recently with the DRA.
In its place, Dr Anderson has advocated a three-tier system, coordinated by a full-time disciplinary official, in which on-field referees would be backed by a citing-commissioner system, a permanently standing hearings committee and a single avenue of appeal consisting of a permanent three-person committee (comprising law professionals) operating under similar lines to the DRA.
“These proposals merit serious consideration,” said Duffy. “In my view, however, given our current system needs some more time to ‘bed down’ we should give our incoming committees time to operate within the current parameters before contemplating further reconstruction.
“The incoming committee will benefit from improvements in procedure that have been incorporated by the Rule Book Task Force in the new Disciplinary Handbook and that draw on recommendations from DRA adjudication on recent cases.
“By the end of this year it will be clear whether our current disciplinary system requires a further overhaul or not.”
One criticism of the current system is that the multitude of committees encouraged appeals — many on technicalities — but Duffy claimed that, with various legal loopholes being closed, the numbers of appeals had dwindled.
“This (current) system can work and I would like to give this system a year. If we look at it at the end of this year and the system is unworkable, then Jack Anderson has proposed a very realistic alternative.”
Other rule changes closer to realisation are those pertaining to the experimental disciplinary rules which are due to be debated and voted on at the annual congress, to be held in Cork next month.
The new regulations have been buffeted by criticisms from a wide variety of managers in recent weeks but Duffy declared himself fully in support of the proposals at yesterday’s media briefing.
“Regardless of the outcome of Congress deliberations, I have no doubt that the experimental period was worthwhile and that, in the longer term, it will influence our perceptions of obstructive fouling in our games,” said Duffy.
The experimental regulations require a two-thirds majority if they are to be adopted into rule on a permanent basis.