The GAA would not exist without the communities we represent and serve.
Every club in the Association already supports the development of its communities in a broad variety of ways, whether that's offering young people the chance to better themselves through sport or by supporting local charities through fundraising events and functions. The programmes outlined here aim to highlight how clubs can maximise their positive influence, be that by becoming more age-friendly and engaging older members of our communities or by supporting national campaigns such as those supporting road or farm safety.
The GAA can also play an important role in supporting its members and communities in the aftermath of what are called critical incidents. Each year the Community & Health team in Croke Park receives between 30-40 requests from clubs and counties for support in the aftermath of such a situation (a critical incident is defined as a situation that overwhelms one’s natural capacity to respond). These are as broad and varied in their nature as any situation that can befall any individual, club, or community.
This experience prompted the Community & Health department, supported by the National Health & Wellbeing Committee and leading experts from both the PHA and the HSE to develop a Critical Incident Resource Plan and resource. A number of clubs and counties that have experienced critical incidents in recent years also kindly gave their support and invaluable learnings to the process. The aim of the guide is to help GAA units at all levels to:
- Better understand what a critical incident is
- Develop and maintain their own critical incident response plan
- Follow recommended practices when supporting community responses to critical incidents to the best of their capacity
- Ensure a consistency of care for all members following an incident regardless of the situation/location
- Identify and access the range of national and local support services that are available to them in such circumstances
Speaking at the launch in 2015, An tUachtarán CLG Aogán Ó Fearghail, said: “When challenging times arise, as they inevitably do from time to time, GAA members and units all over the world rally to support those affected, be they friends or strangers. This is when the GAA really comes into its own. However, some extreme situations can overwhelm a club’s natural capacity to respond. We hope this new resource will support our units in such times by reassuring them and offering them a template and roadmap to follow.”