Monday 25 September 2017

Sean Kelly calls on Congress to 'stand up for democracy' on vote majority

Former GAA President Sean Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Former GAA President Sean Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Former GAA president Seán Kelly has urged Congress to 'strike a blow for democracy' next week by reducing the voting margin required to change rules.

It currently stands at two-thirds, which means it takes 67 votes per 100 to amend a rule.

"It's too high. I'm very much in favour of reducing it to three-fifths (60 per cent). Others want it amended to a simple majority but the danger with that is that rules could be changed too often on small majorities," said Kelly.

He supported a reduction during his term as president (2003-'06) but motions from Clare and Offaly calling for a change to three-fifths was beaten at the 2006 Congress. A similar proposal by Dublin was also beaten at the 2010 Congress.

Down, Longford and Westmeath will sponsor the latest effort to cut the required majority to three-fifths at Congress on Saturday week, while Leitrim and Tipperary are proposing lowering it to a simple majority.

Majority

Some motions fail every year, despite receiving various majorities between 50 and 66.6 per cent.

An important example from last year saw a proposal to bring forward the All-Ireland senior finals by two weeks fail, despite receiving 61 per cent of the vote.

"Two-thirds is very high majority and can result in really good proposals being shot down. I accept that we have to be careful with the majority rules but I can't see how anyone can argue that three-fifths isn't high enough," said Kelly, now a Fine Gael MEP.

Dublin CEO John Costello also argued for change in his recent 2016 annual report.

"Donald Trump would be proud of us. He won the US presidential election despite getting less than 50 per cent of the vote but that's still a massive surplus compared with what passes for a majority in the GAA. The idea that 34 beats 66 is impossible to justify," he wrote.

Ironically, any rule change on the required majority will itself need a two-thirds majority to be passed at Congress.

Irish Independent

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