GAA president Nickey Brennan has signalled his intention to address Saturday’s special Congress on the specific issue of discipline after a stormy season in the board rooms.
Brennan has revealed the “unusual” step of a president addressing a special Congress, as he continues his battle with the culture of so many GAA units and members refusing to accept punishment.
The season has been littered with counties refusing to accept punishment meted out to their players and in many cases, those players have had suspensions overturned in committee rooms.
Now Brennan wants to tackle the issue head on again, having already addressed a specially convened Central Council meeting on much the same subject last June.
Delegates will gather in Croke Park on Saturday to debate refinement of the hurling championships as proposed by the current HDC.
But Brennan will re-enforce his view that the GAA must have more acceptance of the disciplinary process.
“I’m going to take the somewhat unusual step of addressing the special Congress specifically on that matter,” he said. “It’s not usual for a president to address a special Congress but I will be doing it on Saturday on one subject, those issues that arose during the year.”
Most recently, the case of the Dublin hurler Peadar Carton highlighted significant grey areas in the disciplinary process. Carton was suspended for two months but was then cleared by an appeals committee and was free to play in the All-Ireland U21 final earlier this month.
“I’m going to explain problems we have and suggest solutions to them and put a time frame for when these solutions should be implemented,” Brennan added.
The GAA will have a second special Congress in 2008 to deal with reports on club fixtures, disciplinary aspects in relation to the playing rules and player burn out.
The president revealed how the GAA is to use the inter-provincial finals to target members of the non-national community by inviting them to Croke Park in late October.
But he admitted that the time is coming to make a definitive decision on the future of the series.
“It may be over-dramatising it to say that this is a last throw of the dice. We’re bringing them to Croke Park because we feel the attraction of playing them under lights should be a help.
“It is nearly ‘make our mind up’ time on the inter-provincials. I’d like to think that this might give them a new lease of life.”
Brennan also re-iterated the GAA’s stance on the issue of Government grants being paid to inter-county players.
“The proposal from the last administration was that money be paid to the GAA by way of infrastructural grants,” he explained. “We’ve said that isn’t acceptable in any way.
“We’re not going to accept money under one guise and pay it out under another. It would have too many implications for us. That is very obvious. Hopefully, the Government can come up with some strategy be it through the Sports Council or by some other method. We’re not going to dictate to them on it.”