GAA hit dead end on payment issue
Duffy admits frustration with lack of progress
Published 16/03/2011 | 05:00
THERE is still no substantial progress on one of the biggest thorns in the GAA's side -- the illegal payment of team managers.
Despite making it one of the main issues of his address to Congress last year, and something of a personal crusade, GAA director general Paraic Duffy admitted yesterday: "We've made no obvious progress."
And GAA president Christy Cooney has stressed that the Management Committee (Coiste Bainisti) will not be rushed into any pronouncements on the matter until they have addressed what he called "governance issues".
Duffy has made no secret that stamping out illegal payments to managers -- both at club and county levels -- is his top priority.
But the issue, which is at such variance with the association's amateur ethos, continues to be the elephant in the GAA's room.
Duffy admitted as much in his 2010 Congress report when he emphasised how illegal payment of managers was undermining the association's core value.
"The least acceptable option is to continue to proclaim a value and, at the same time, ignore it," he said. "Expressing a determination to address the issue is meaningless unless followed by effective action.
"I believe it is time to call on the expertise available to us and establish a committee to examine the current situation with a view to bringing forward proposals in late 2010 that will allow a debate throughout the association on the best way to deal with this difficult problem."
That was a year ago, and there was surprise that Duffy has made only a passing reference to the problem in his report to next month's Congress, which was released yesterday.
Duffy's only comment about it -- "There is also need to address the issue of irregular and unsuitable payments to managers and management teams" -- is made under his discussion of finance and is minuscule in the context of his report, which spans 44 pages. Duffy has already formulated a discussion document on the matter and presented it to the Management Committee last December, but they still haven't made any formal response.
The delay has created speculation that Duffy's suggestions have been too radical for some of the Management Committee, who have not been willing to row in behind him.
Duffy denied yesterday that his views vary radically with that of the committee.
"I don't think that's fair to say," he protested. "We wouldn't all be of one mind, which is normal, and I'm sure different people have different opinions, but my responsibility was simply to produce a discussion paper and I have done that. It was up to them (the committee) to look at it then.
"Of course I'd have hoped that there'd be more progress," he admitted. "It's a difficult one. I wouldn't say it's an attractive issue, but it can be addressed. The trick is to get consensus going forward and I accept that, to date, we've made no obvious progress."
Cooney, who is a member of the Management Committee, accepted the scale of the problem when he said: "We're not going to be rushed into getting a situation resolved that has gone on for 50 years.
"When we're ready, we'll bring forward our recommendations to our counties and Central Council at the appropriate time. Whatever we do, we'll do it right. Paraic delivered the paper to us, it dealt with the best practice for the association and, as part of that process, Coiste Bainisti are looking at that at the moment and payments 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 the county officers recently," Cooney added. "But we're not going to rush into the situation of getting it completed just for the sake of it being completed."
Asked if this meant that the matter would not be discussed at all at next month's Congress, Cooney said: "That depends on what Coiste Bainisti decide on going forward.
"Then we'll take that decision. But until such time as Coiste Bainisti are clear on what they're going to do, we won't be."