Thursday 12 December 2019

GAA remove business degree need for next director-general

Late U-turn prompts deadline extension for applicants

Páraic Duffy. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Páraic Duffy. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

As U-turns go, the GAA's clarification yesterday that all applicants for the position of director-general of the association won't now have to have a business-related honours degree was as pronounced as it gets.

This is, after all, the top job in the country's biggest sporting organisation with a membership of around three-quarters of a million people, stitched among the 2,200 or so affiliated clubs. The expectation is that at such a level the job specification would not have to be changed so late in the day, prompting an extension by nine days to accommodate those who may have felt alienated by the initial advertisement.

But change there has been with a new deadline, Friday, January 19 by 5pm, now making it only "desirable" for a candidate to have a business-related qualification as opposed to the apparent necessity, up to yesterday morning, to have a minimum Level 8 NFQ qualification which equates to an honours degree.

It follows a story last Saturday by the Irish Independent's Martin Breheny who pointed out that under the wording of the original advert many well-placed candidates without the relevant degree felt they could be excluded from the process.

While assurances from the company overseeing the process suggested all candidates would be considered, it left it open to challenge and clarity was required.

In a statement, the GAA acknowledged that there had been "confusion" over the initial terms that spelled out 12 qualities that 'The Person' would need to have.

"In the job specification advertising the role, 12 attributes were listed as candidate qualities we are seeking. We note that one of these 12 attributes - a third-level business related qualification (min Level 8 NFQ) - has given rise to queries," a statement read.

"In response, we wish to clarify that while business experience is an important consideration and aspect of the role, applicants without a third-level business related qualification will be fully considered."

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While Dublin-based Lincoln Recruitment Specialists are overseeing matters, the decision will ultimately rest with the outgoing GAA president Aogán ó Fearghail, the incoming president John Horan and whoever else will be brought onto a sub-committee to assist them.

The last four directors-general of the GAA have all come from educational backgrounds and in the current climate of concern over the commercial direction that the association has taken the apparent requirement of that business-related degree - until clarified - was unfortunate.

That said, with a turnover of almost €60 million at central level, some business management experience is clearly required but with a director of finance and a commercial director in place the level of requirement is somewhat diluted.

The nine-day extension to the deadline will make it much more difficult to identify a candidate in time for Congress at the end of February.

The outgoing director-general Páraic Duffy is due to step down on March 31, with the Monaghan official having spent 10 years at the helm.

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