Frank Burke: Rural clubs a priority

GAA presidential candidate Frank Burke says improving the plight of vulnerable clubs in “fractured” rural Ireland is one of his chief policy priorities.

Frank Burke: Rural clubs a priority

Burke is bidding to become Galway’s first GAA president since the late Joe McDonagh held office from 1997 to 2000 and has committed himself to helping the many clubs on the brink of extinction in rural Ireland.

“Through my capacity as chairman of the National Games Development committee, I have become aware that there are a number of clubs across the country who I would consider, at this point in time, as vulnerable,” he stressed.

“We must support their survival and, if at all possible, ensure there is a future for them. We should also support the cause of rural Ireland, which I deem to be considerably fractured at this time.”

A more favourable club fixtures schedule, improved health and wellbeing resources and a recruitment programme to draw new faces into the GAA are the solutions offered by Burke in sustaining these struggling clubs.

“The fixtures dilemma must be addressed. We must work towards a window for club games and until this is achieved, our members and families will continue to contend with the unforeseen.”

He added: “I would like to drive an initiative recruiting volunteers at club level, empower them to work at coaching, administration and club management. We need to reach out to new people in communities, make space for them, encourage and facilitate their participation.

“This will lead to a greater degree of self-sufficiency and, of course, long-term sustainability for our clubs. The club volunteer is what makes us. We need to enhance the health and wellbeing resource so that the association’s response to a critical incident in any club is instant, appropriate and effective.

“I say that because at club level there isn’t the capacity for such a response whereas the GPA are providing valuable support in such incidences to our inter-county players.”

Burke is one of five candidates hoping to succeed Aogán Ó Fearghaíl. Also in the running are Robert Frost (Clare), Sean Walsh (Kerry), Martin Skelly (Longford), and John Horan (Dublin).

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