Friday 24 November 2017

Congress needs practical input, insists Burns

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Former Armagh midfielder Jarlath Burns has called for radical reform of the way legislation at central level in the GAA is handled after last weekend's Congress.

Burns said the lack of debate surrounding the introduction of the mark and other playing rules was "outrageous" and has convinced him that Congress must be completely remodelled.

Burns, Armagh's delegate to Central Council, said he was hugely disappointed at the negativity and apathy shown towards so many good motions.

He himself tried to have the debate over the mark reopened with a suspension of standing orders on Saturday but GAA president Christy Cooney didn't allow it.

The mark, which allowed a player to have a free-kick if a kick out was caught cleanly between the two 45s, was soundly defeated at Friday night's session, prompting Burns to seek to re-open the case on Saturday.

"I felt there was a mood in the room to have it introduced in some way and that it was dealt with much too quickly on the Friday night," said Burns.

"But everything had to be rushed through because there were so many motions to get through. I just felt something so important, so fundamental to the game had to be discussed properly and it wasn't," said Burns.

"I'd have a vested interest in the mark because I am a midfielder all my life, I'm still a midfielder on my second team at home (Silverbridge in Armagh).

"I can catch a ball and run a little but not much more. But I love the game more than any other aspect of the GAA. I'm not sure there were many in the same shoes in that hall over the weekend," he said.

"There are two clear distinctions in the GAA. There are 'games' people and there are 'committee' people. And committee people dominate Congress where such important decisions are made."

Burns is calling for a separate playing rules Congress every five years to discuss motions like the mark, the hand pass and the square ball -- which were experimented during this year's league -- to be held in isolation from the main body of Congress.

"I'd have a chairman, a referee's administrator, a games development manager, games people like that as part of a county's delegation. There's a 'part two' of the GAA's rulebook which governs games and I think Congress should be split in the same way."

Burns also believes that Congress itself on an annual basis should be divided into two to make it more efficient. A division between rules that cover policy and fundamentals such as Croke Park, payment of managers, international rules, inter provincials and finance should be made with rules that cover technicalities should be looked at."

Burns doubts however that reform would come quickly. "I couldn't imagine a club bringing in such change," he admitted.


"But it's needed. You had one of the most thought-provoking reports from Paraic Duffy ever and it barely drew response from the room on Friday night. You have to ask why in that instance."

The former Armagh captain, who has held a number of roles at central administrative level in the GAA including chairman of the Croke Park-based players committee and chairman of the 125 celebrations committee last year, would also support moves to cut the numbers of officials that attend Congress annually. "Having 350 in a decision-making process is too far too many in my opinion. Far too many people don't get an opportunity to voice their opinions."

  • Dublin's entire programme of club senior football championship matches have been called off next weekend. The county's presence in the All-Ireland U-21 final against Donegal on Saturday week forced the Board to call off the games yesterday.

Dublin under 21 Jim Gavin was understood to have made the request after his side's semi-final win over Roscommon on Saturday night.

Irish Independent

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