Club hire penalty may be softened

CLUBS who break the GAA’s rule allowing rival field sports use their grounds could face a less extreme punishment.

Previously they were threatened with suspension from the association but GAA Director General Páraic Duffy’s preferred option is a Central Council motion to add the option of a fine at the launch of his annual report ahead of congress in Croke Park yesterday.

“One difficulty is that the penalty for breach of Rule 5.1 by any club, county committee or provincial council acting contrary to this rule is automatic suspension,” he said.

“The severity of the penalty has led to reluctance to implement it.

“Therefore the Central Council is proposing to Congress that the option of a fine as a penalty, if deemed appropriate, be added to the rule.”

However, clubs will still be allowed hire out their facilities, just as long as it’s not to a rival sports team or political body.

“Clubs may permit the use of ancillary facilities to groups of individuals for recreational purposes that are not considered contrary to the GAA’s own aims and objectives.”

Asked did that mean club halls could be hired out for five-a-side soccer games, he said it was a possibility.

“If it is a small-time use. It is not about allowing a soccer club or a rugby club to come in but if a few fellows want to come in and use the facilities, that is something to clarify.”

Those same rules do not apply to Croke Park though, which is still available to rugby and soccer should the need arise, as Congress vetoed a case-by-case consideration of applications last year.

Meanwhile there was no movement on the payment to managers’ issue, which was so prevalent in president Christy Cooney’s election campaign.

“Look, of course I’d have hoped that there’d be more progress. It’s a difficult one,” said Duffy.

“I presented the paper. I wouldn’t say it’s an attractive issue, but it can be addressed. The trick is to get consensus going forward and we must try to achieve that.

“I accept that to date, we’ve made no obvious progress. What I produced for the management committee was a discussion paper. That was my responsibility. It was then up to them to look at it then.”

Cooney added that the management committee is still reviewing Duffy’s paper on managers’ payments and no action will be taken until they found agreement.

“As a member of the management committee, Paráic delivered the paper to us. As he’s already outlined to you in some of his comments, it dealt with the best practice for the association,” said Cooney.

“As part of that process, Coiste Bainistí are looking at that. Payment to managers is one part of that. We need to look broadly at the situation, to see how we deal with proper governance and governance at county level.

“That was part of the reason that we had a meeting with county officers. In due course, we’re looking at that. When we’re ready we’ll bring forward our recommendations to our counties and to Central Council at the appropriate time. We’re not going to be rushed into getting a situation resolved overnight that has gone on for the last 50 years.

“Whatever we do, we’ll do it right to the best of our ability. But we’re not going to rushed into the situation of getting it completed just for the sake of it being completed so we have good governance in our association.”

But there is still no word on whether Duffy’s paper will be brought to the county boards and provincial councils to discuss. “That depends on what Coiste Bainistí decide on, going forward. Then we’ll take that decision. But until such time as Coiste Bainistí are clear on what they’re going to do, we won’t be.”

The issue may address itself though with both Cooney and Duffy agreeing that finance is the biggest concern to clubs and counties at the moment. While Duffy said there would be no bailout of clubs facing financial problems, he felt they wouldn’t collapse.

“I don’t think that’ll happen. There is a serious financial considerations.”

Picture: LEADING THE WAY: President Christy Cooney and Director General Páraic Duffy at the publication of the 2010 GAA annual report yesterday. Picture: Paul Mohan


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