Confusion reigns over eligibility criteria for GAA Director-General job
With four days to go before the closing date for applications for the GAA director-general's position, serious doubts surround the precise qualifications candidates require to enter the race.
It's an unfortunate situation in the process to fill one of the most prestigious posts in the country as it may lead to high-quality candidates not applying. Páraic Duffy, who has been director-general for the past 10 years, retires at the end of March,
The confusion arises over the stipulation in the advertisement that 'the person' should have a "third-level, business-related qualification (min Level 8 NFQ)".
That equates to an honours degree and, at face value, rules out potential contenders whose qualifications do not have a business element.
Of the 12 criteria mentioned in the advertisement, a "business-related qualification" is the only educational prerequisite specified.
It has sparked surprise in GAA circles, especially since the last four director-generals had extensive educational rather than business backgrounds.
It also raises the question of why the GAA's power-brokers deemed it necessary for the next director-general to have specialist business expertise when it did not previously apply.
However, it's now unclear if the business-related qualification requirement is binding, arising from a response to a question from the Irish Independent, submitted to Lincoln Recruitment Specialists, the Dublin-based company handling the appointment process.
We asked if it were absolutely essential to hold such a degree and were there any circumstances in which candidates without a business qualification would be considered.
The response from Shay Dalton, managing director of Lincoln Recruitment, was as follows:
"The purpose of the advertisement as detailed is to provide information about the nature of the role and its responsibilities and requirements. All applicants will be given full consideration, with the utmost confidentiality."
A follow-up question as to whether that included applicants without the specified business qualification went unanswered.
That will add to the confusion among those without business-related qualifications who believe they fit the criteria in every other way.
Mr Dalton's response states that "all applicants will be given full consideration".
Does that mean that the business element is not essential, despite appearing in the advertisement?
Or does it mean that only all applicants who fill the criteria in the advertisement will be considered? He did not reply to that query.
Among the possible candidates from outside Croke Park mentioned since Duffy announced his intention to step down last October are Dublin CEO John Costello, former Armagh footballer Jarlath Burns, now a school principal, former Tipperary All-Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy, who is a member of the GAA's management committee, provincial secretaries Michael Reynolds (Leinster) and Simon Moroney (Munster) and Tipperary's Ger Ryan.
Internal Croke Park staff linked with the vacancy include Peter McKenna, Feargal McGill, Alan Milton and Tom Ryan.
Lincoln Recruitment, who handled the process which led to the appointment of Dermot Earley as CEO of the Gaelic Players' Association in succession to Dessie Farrell early last year, will play a major part in finding Duffy's successor, although the final call will be made by senior GAA officials, led by president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl and incoming president John Horan, who takes over at the end of next month.
Dublin footballer and GPA secretary Paul Flynn is commercial director with Lincoln.