A MOVE by county board secretary Pat Fitzgerald to reduce the number of county board meetings to six each year has been deferred for consideration at a Special Convention on January 15 next.
This decision was taken by delegates to Thursday’s Convention, amid claims from county board chairman Michael O’Neill that some county board around the country have as little as two county board meetings during the year.
The motion, tabled by the Sixmilebridge club on behalf of Mr Fitzgerald, was one of two on the Convention Clár that dealt speciﬁcally with county board meetings – the other from the St Joseph’s Miltown, which called for 11 county board gatherings during the year was also deferred.
“For many years we’ve had similar structures,” said Fitzgerald in outlining his argument for change. “In many businesses, if they didn’t change for a number of years, then we know what would happen.
“It would afford the opportunity to have debate. The text of the motion is incidental. I am just putting forward my reasons.
“I believe there are many issues of concern in Clare GAA. You may say why didn’t I write about them, but I feel it may not have been in the best interests to address them in that fashion.
“I do feel that there is a need for change, but most of all, we would all agree that in recent years, particularly in the past couple of years, with emigration and migration.
“We did a survey last year (on player emigration) and we tried to do it again this year. It is absolutely frightening.
“The place address these critical issues which are going to confront our association in the near future is with the key people in the association. The key people as far as I am concerned are the leaders of the clubs. The elected people in the clubs,” he added.
The secretary’s motion argued that six county board meetings would involve the chairman or secretary of each club, the board delegate and senior team manager being present.
A number of delegates to Convention backed the motion.
“The workings of board meetings needs to be review and restructured and this motion will help to achieve that,” said Kilrush Shamrocks delegate, Colm Browne. “It might be a step forward for tonight, but it is timely.
“There is a disconnect at times be- tween what happens at board meetings and what’s reﬂected on the ground in clubs and the message that’s relayed at board meetings is not the message that’s agreed at club meetings – the opinion of the club doesn’t come through.
“Getting the key people in clubs into meetings is critical because the issues that the GAA is facing in terms of migration and numbers and ﬁnance, there needs to be a reconnection between the clubs and the executive. The only way you can do that is by having meaningful meetings,” he added.
“This is an effort to have quality before quantity,” said Cratloe delegate, Flan O’Reilly. “We are beginning to realise that the GAA is more than the ofﬁcers. There needs to be more of a calculated input from the clubs and this is an attempt to do this.
“I would like to support the motion,” said Cooraclare delegate, PJ McGuane, “particularly because with it we’re going to get the motion a month in advance. There is a disconnect”.
“If we pass this, it’s going to anchor us down,” said Tulla delegate Michael O’Halloran. “It’s going to anchor us down to a situation where we discuss football matters for one hour and hurling matters for one hour and then we have general discussion.
“When I was young we had a holy hour. If you weren’t spiritually in- clined it was an endurance. If some of us had to sit through codes we’re not particularly interested in, we have great difﬁculty with this.
And, Allowing secretaries of subcommittees call meetings, I think it is a total and absolute recipe for disaster,” added O’Halloran.
“We are asking that there would be 11 meetings in the year,” said St Joseph’s Miltown delegate, Noel Walsh, in opposing the notion of only having six board meetings a year. “If we reduce our number of meetings to six – if it’s passed we would probably be the only county in the association who don’t hold a monthly meeting,” added Walsh.
“I can assure you that that isn’t true. There are counties who hold two and maybe four meetings a year,” countered board chairman, Michael O’Neill.
“I was astonished that after the June meeting of the county board, we didn’t come back until the middle of September for the next full county board meeting,” responded Walsh.
“This was despite the fact that the intervening months were a hive of activity at club level, county level and everything.
“It’s better to be talking at a county board meeting than to be talking in the pub, or talking out at the gate giving out. The place to be talking is at a monthly county board meeting or the Convention,” he added.
“Six meetings. There can be eight, nine, ten meetings. I don’t mind,” said Pat Fitzgerald. “The one thing I would say that the ﬁrst meeting would be in February and then it would be up to the county committee to do two things – one, before the end of the meeting, they would set the agenda for the next meeting and would decide on when it would be held,” he added.