Wednesday 21 August 2019

'Gender proposals not feasible, change needs to be gradual'

Tyrone chair Roisin Jordan claims time-frame is too short

'Jordan believes dialogue between the Minister and the GAA would have been mutually beneficial before the story broke' Photo: Sportsfile
'Jordan believes dialogue between the Minister and the GAA would have been mutually beneficial before the story broke' Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Tyrone GAA chairperson Róisín Jordan has rejected the gender quotas proposed by Minister for Sport Patrick O'Donovan, believing they are "unfeasible".

Jordan, the first woman to be appointed the top role in a county board when elected two years ago, has worked at "grassroots" between club and county for the past 15 years and feels "gradual change" is a better fit for the GAA.

After serving her "apprenticeship" she will likely bid for an Ulster Council position when her five-year tenure ends in 2019, but she feels the notion of the GAA reaching the 30pc female quota by then is "not attainable".

"Not really," Jordan said when asked if the proposal is practical. "I can't see it being feasible now. I think the time-frame is just not attainable.

"How can you vote people into positions when they haven't got the experience?

"Our association is a voluntary association. If people don't present themselves to be elected you can't just pick them out and throw them in just to bring it up to the 30pc.

"I know there's a lot of help available, I can speak to anyone for advice, but I just don't know how they're expecting us to put people in positions like that. It's not a tick-box exercise within the GAA, we have to get the right people in place.

"Every day is different. There's days when you have no problems and everything goes smooth and others when there are difficulties . . . experience helps you to deal with it.

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"It would be extremely difficult without that because no matter how much I knew as vice-chair in Tyrone, I couldn't have gone into the chair without experience.

"There's different things that come up that you're not expecting, and for people to be put into positions that they've no experience in would be very difficult for them."

The GAA's Central Council currently has no female representatives but Jordan feels it's "inevitable" that more women will be promoted to senior positions - but insists that the change should be organic rather than enforced.

"If the Minister looked back through the history of the GAA, we haven't done much wrong but change is coming, it's slow but it is coming. It has to be gradual though, it shouldn't be all of a sudden like this," Jordan said.

"Tyrone's executive committee has three more women along with me and 99pc of clubs have females involved, with the vast majority having female secretaries. There are a lot more women involved than people realise.

"It's most likely to happen naturally in time - the way it's working with our association is that we're gradually getting there, we're moving forward.

"Years ago it just used to be men and the men went out to the football, but women are getting involved at grassroots level and are putting themselves forward."

Jordan believes dialogue between the Minister and the GAA would have been mutually beneficial before the story broke.

"This was totally news to me and news to everybody else," she said. "I don't believe he had spoken to anyone from the GAA, which I don't think is right. He should've met with them and discussed the whole issue first before this hit the papers, it's just such a pity that he hadn't."

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