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The 2016 GAA Annual Congress took place at Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa & Golf Resort in Carlow.
The 2016 GAA Annual Congress took place at Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa & Golf Resort in Carlow.

Annual Congress 2017: The Motions Explained


By John Harrington

This Friday and Saturday (February 24 and 25) the GAA’s Annual Congress will take place in Croke Park.

Included on the Clár will be the election of a new GAA President-Elect on Friday evening. The five candidates are, in no particular order, Frank Burke (Galway), John Horan (Dublin), Robert Frost (Clare), Sean Walsh (Kerry) and Martin Skelly (Longford).

Whoever is elected will succeed Aogán Ó Fearghail as GAA President in 12 months time.

In terms of motions to come before Congress, this year a total of 56 will be discussed and voted upon by delegates.

Motions 1 to 3 have been submitted by Ard Chomhairle. Motions 4 to 6 have been submitted by Ard Chomhairle consequent upon a report from An Coiste Bainistíochta.

Motions 7 to 23 have been submitted by Ard Chomhairle consequent on a report from The Rules Advisory Committee. Of these, motions 7-20 will be voted on a composite basis while Motions 21, 22, 23 will be voted on individually.

Finally, motions 24 to 56 have been submitted by the Counties and Provinces.

Click here to see the motions as they will appear before the delegates (PDF).

Here are some useful documents to read alongside examining the motions:

2016 Annual Report and Financial Accounts

GAA Official Guide Part 1

GAA Official Guide Part 2

And below is a simplified guide to the motions to be dealt with in Croke Park this weekend.

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Motion 1: The first motion seeks to adopt a new rule – Rule 1.18 – to the GAA Official Guide that would prohibit players, team management, or match officials involved in a game from betting on the outcome of any aspect of the game concerned. To do so would be 'discrediting the Association'.

The minimum sanction a member would face for this offence would be an eight-week suspension. Debarment and expulsion from the Association may also be considered.

If a team or unit is in breach of this rule an eight-week suspension is also the minimum sanction, though a fine, disqualification, and expulsion from the Association may also be considered.

Motion 2: This motion, if passed, would allow the Gaelic Players Association to submit a maximum of one motion to Congress.

Motion 3: This motion seeks to allow the Christy Ring Cup champions to compete in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Qualifiers in the same year they win the Christy Ring Cup.

The 2017 GAA Annual Congress will take place in Croke Park.
The 2017 GAA Annual Congress will take place in Croke Park.

Motion 4: This is the first of three motions from Ard Chomhairle seeking to restructure the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship on a three-year experimental basis.

It would introduce a Group Stage for the All-Ireland quarter-final which would see the eight teams divided into two groups of four. This would ensure more high-quality games of Gaelic Football at the height of the season.

The groupings in year one (2018) would be as follows.

Group 1 – Munster provincial winner, Connacht provincial winner, Ulster runner-up or team that defeats them in round 4 of the Qualifiers, Leinster runner-up or team that defeats them in round 4.

Group 2 – Ulster provincial winner, Leinster provincial winner, Munster runner-up or team that defeats them in round 4 for the Qualifiers, Connacht runner-up or team that defeats them in round 4.

The groups in the succeeding years would be determined by Central Council. Each team would play one home match, one away match, and one match at Croke Park.

In the All-Ireland semi-finals, the Group 1 Quarter-Final winner would play the Group 2 Quarter-Final runner-up, and the Group 2 Quarter-Final winner would play the Group 1 Quarter-Final runner-up.

The All-Ireland semi-finals would both be played over the one weekend. 

Motion 5: On a three-year experimental basis, this motion seeks to have the All-Ireland Senior Football and Hurling Finals played in Croke Park on or before the last Sunday in August on dates determined by Central Council. This would free up more time in the GAA calendar for the playing of club matches.

Motion 6: On a three-year experimental basis, this motion seeks to do away with replays in all inter-county championship matches apart from Senior All-Ireland Finals and Provincial Finals. Instead, extra-time would be obligatory. If passed, this motion would ease fixture congestion which can cause serious problems for the scheduling of club as well as inter-county fixtures.

Electronic voting is used at GAA Annual Congress.
Electronic voting is used at GAA Annual Congress.

Motions 7 to 23 are submitted based upon a report of the Rules Advisory Committee. Many are technical and administrative in nature. Motions 7 to 20 will be voted on a composite basis. Motions 21, 22, and 23 will be voted on individually.

Motion 7: This motion seeks to amend sections of Rule 1.17 which relates to playing gear and equipment. It would oblige players to wear the correct gear for filmed player 'walk-ups'.

Also, only a county sponsor’s brand name(s) distinctive marks or logo may be displayed on the jersey and replica jersey as per specifications approved by Central Council.

Motion 8: This motion seeks to amend the list of required members needed on a County Committee by only insisting on the inclusion of a County Handball representative “where applicable”. This is to cater for a situation where a County Handball Committee does not exist.

Motion 9: A ‘tidying-up’ motion from the Rules Advisory Committee relating to a county committee’s power to appoint a full-time secretary or other administrator and the procedure required to do so.

Motion 10: Another ‘tidying-up’ motion from the Rules Advisory Committee relating to the powers of the County Committee. If passed, the County Teams Management and Panels Sub-Committee will be responsible for overseeing a combined ‘Players/Managers Charter’. Previously there would have been a separate Players Charter and Managers Charter. 

Motion 11: This motion from the Rules Advisory Committee seeks to amend the Powers of a Provincial Council by allowing them to appoint Sub-Committees and delegate specific powers to them. 

Motion 12: If passed this motion would give Provincial and Central Competitions Control Committees automatic power to make decisions on inter-county transfers within their jurisdictions. 

Motion 13:  Another tidying up motion required due to the fact that the final meeting of Central Council now takes place in November rather than October. 

Motion 14: If passed this motion would introduce a constitution for handball.

Motion 15: Relates to the organisation of Gaelic Games in Educational Institutions. The world ‘Bye-Laws’ in the penultimate paragraph of Rule 3.57 would be amended to read ‘Constitutions’ if this motion is passed.

Motion 16: This motion seeks to give international units, other than in Britain, the power of deviation from General Rule in certain circumstances without annual permission from Central Council. Going forward the international units would provide for their own particular needs in their bye-laws. Once those bye-laws are passed, then everything would be in order.

Currently international units require a lot of deviations on an annual basis to be in line with the rule-book because of how many of their clubs and competitions are set up. 

Motion 17: This motion seeks to amend Rule 4.1 – Elective Office. If passed, only a full member who has paid his or her annual Club subscription prior to March 31st in a membership year will be entitled to be nominated for or elected to any elective office in that same membership year.

The result of each vote on every motion is quickly apparent at GAA Annual Congress.
The result of each vote on every motion is quickly apparent at GAA Annual Congress.

Motion 18: If passed this motion will make it mandatory for all GAA units, committees, officers and representatives to use their allocated ‘@gaa.ie’ e-mail addresses for all official correspondence and communications.

Motion 19: Relates to match suspensions. It basically clarifies that if a player is suspended for a match then the match in question includes any extra-time that might be played.

Motion 20: Another tidying up motion that would slightly amend Rule 14.1 – Additions to and Amendments of Rules 

Motion 21: This motion seeks to amend Rule 4.17 by renaming the ‘Players Injury Scheme’ as the ‘Players Injury Fund’. The amendment would also add the stipulation that – ‘A team shall not be permitted to participate in any competition or game whatsoever under the jurisdiction of the Association unless they are in compliance of the terms and conditions of the Injury Fund. Failure to fulfil a fixture as a result of such non-compliance shall result in the forfeiture of the game’. 

Motion 22: This motion relates to sanctions for playing in the Canadian Board, New York, or USGAA areas. Currently a sanction entitles a player to play in these areas from March 1st to the end of October. If this motion is passed, such a sanction would entitle them to play from May 1st to the end of October.

Motion 23: This motion also relates to sanctions for playing in the Canadian Board, New York, or USGAA areas.  If the motion is passed, the cut-off date for granting of sanctions will be July 1 for players intending to play in those areas. At the moment the cut-off date is July 20. 

Motions 24-56 have been submitted by counties/provinces

Motion 24 (Laois): This motion from the Laois County Board seeks to restructure the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. If passed, it would introduce a round-robin format for the 16 counties in the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers. The 16 would be divided into four groups of four with the top two in each section progressing to Round Two of the Qualifiers.

Motion 25 (Carlow): This motion from the Carlow County Board also seeks to restructure the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship by bringing forward Round 1 of the football qualifiers to the first weekend in June.

Provincial semi-finals would be played the third weekend in June with Provincial Finals completed by the second weekend in July. The idea is that this would free up extra weeks for club games in the summer.

Motion 26 (Tyrone): This motion seeks to have the All-Ireland Football Final played in Croke Park on the last Sunday in August and the Hurling Final played one week previous.

GAA Congress was last held in Croke Park in 2014.
GAA Congress was last held in Croke Park in 2014.

Motion 27 (Derry): This motion seeks to abolish the final promotion/relegation playoffs from the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups. If the motion is passed, the winners of the Rackard Cup would be promoted straight up to the Christy Ring Cup for the following year, and the winners of the Meagher Cup would be promoted straight up to the Rackard Cup for the following year.

Motion 28 (Galway): This motion, if passed, would allow Galway’s minor, U-21, and intermediate hurling teams to compete in the Leinster provincial championship.

Motion 29 (Tipperary): This motion, if passed, would replace the All-Ireland U-21 Hurling Championship with an All-Ireland U-20 Hurling Championship.

Motion 30 (Munster Council): This motion seeks to replace the inter-county intermediate hurling championships with an inter-county Under-25 Reserves Hurling Championship.

Motion 31 (Ulster Council): This motion seeks to give Provincial Councils the leeway to begin Minor Provincial Championships later than May 1st.

Motion 32 (Leinster Council): This motion seeks to give Provincial Councils the leeway to organise their Minor Championships “as suits their respective requirements”.

Motion 33 (Tipperary): If passed, this motion would prevent a sponsor’s brand name, distinctive mark, or logo to be displayed on the shorts or body of a match official.

Motion 34 (Tipperary): This motion seeks to reduce the minimum age for full membership of the Association from 18 to 17.

Motion 35 (Tyrone): Currently clubs must complete and return motions for consideration by the County Convention at least one month prior to the convention. If this motion is passed, that period of time will be reduced to two weeks.

Motion 36 (Down, Longford, Westmeath): This is a very significant motion. If passed, it will reduce the majority required to change a rule at Congress from two-thirds (66.6%) to three-fifths (60%).

Motion 37 (Tipperary, Leitrim): A similar motion that goes even further. If passed, it will reduce the majority required to change a rule at Congress from two-thirds (66.6%) to a simple majority (more than 50%)

Motion 38 (Down): This motion seeks to reduce the majority required to remove or amend an existing County Bye-Law at County Convention from two thirds (66.6%) to three fifths (60%).

Motion 39 (Westmeath): This motion seeks to reduce the majority required to rescind a decision previously taken at a General Meeting or Committee Meeting from two thirds (66.6%) to three fifths (60%).

Motion 40 (Donegal, Wexford): This motion seeks to reduce the majority required to rescind a decision previously taken a General Meeting or Committee Meeting from two thirds (66.6%) to a simple majority (over 50%) of those present.

GAA Ard Stiurthóir Páraic Duffy and Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail speak at Congress 2016.
GAA Ard Stiurthóir Páraic Duffy and Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail speak at Congress 2016.

Motion 41 (Wexford, Tipperary): This motion seeks to recognise The Club Players Association as the official representative body for club players at all grades eligible to play for adult teams.

Motion 42 (Longford): This motion seeks to reduce from five to three the number of players who can play for an inter-county hurling team under Special Eligibility Provisions. 

Motion 43 (USGAA): If this motion is passed, then a sanction will not be granted after July 1st for players intending to play in the USGAA or Canadian Board areas.

Motion 44 (USGAA): This motion also relates to playing sanctions abroad. If passed, an inter-county player may only have his J1 Sanction to play in the USA/Canada/Australasia/Europe approved after his county has been eliminated from the senior inter-county championship.

Previously players might have gone abroad to play after their county team had exited the provincial championship, but now cannot go until the team also been knocked out of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.

The J1 Visa concerned with this Exception is the J1 Work and Travel Programme Visa only – i.e. the four-month Visa for 3rd Level Students.

Motion 45 (Laois, Kildare, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Tyrone): This motion, if passed, would allow over 16-year-olds to play in adult club competitions. Currently you must be over 17 years old to play in adult club competitions.

Motion 46 (Laois): This motion, if passed, would allow over 16-year-olds to play in ‘non-championship’ adult club competitions.

Motion 47 (Lancashire): This motion, if passed would allow over 16-year-olds to play adult club competitions in counties outside of Ireland that have less than ten clubs competing at minor.

Motion 48 (Kilkenny): Another age-grade motion. If passed, this would allow those over 15 years of age and under 21 to compete in the U-21 grade at club level. Currently you must be over 16 years of age to compete in the U-21 grade at club level.

Motion 49 (Mayo): Another motion proposing a change to the U-21 grade eligibility. This one, if passed, would allow those over 17 years of age and under 21 to compete in the U-21 grade at Inter-County ‘B’ and ‘C’ level.

Motion 50 (Longford, Westmeath): This motion is proposing a change to the U-21 grade eligibility in inter-county hurling and the U-20 grade in inter-county football. If passed, it would allow those over 17 years of age and under 21 to play U-21 inter-county hurling, and those over 17 years of age and under 20 to play U-20 inter-county football. 

Motion 51 (Meath): This motion, if passed, would allow a player to be regraded during a Championship year if he has only previously played one Championship game.

Motion 52 (Tipperary): This motion deals with the availability of senior inter-county players to their clubs. Currently, they’re not expected to fulfil club championship fixtures in the same code for a maximum of 20 days before an All-Ireland Final and a maximum of 13 days before any other inter-county championship match.

This motion, if passed, would reduce the maximum number of days before an All-Ireland Final to 17 and before all other senior inter-county championship matches to 11.

Motion 53 (Carlow): This motion seeks to delete the rule that confines the Intermediate and Junior Provincial and All-Ireland Club Championships to clubs whose top grade is respectively Intermediate or Junior.

Motion 54 (Clare): Currently games in the Under 12 and Under 13 age groups are organised on a league basis as approved by Central Council. If this motion is passed, then they’ll be organised in the same format as applies in the higher age groups.

Motion 55 (Longford): Currently an inter-county challenge game may not be played on a Saturday or Sunday after the conclusion of the National Hurling or Football League unless a round of adult clubs games is played in the counties involved on the preceding Monday to Saturday inclusive or is to be played on the Sunday (i.e. the day after a Saturday challenge game). This motion, if passed, would make a modest adjustment to that rule by also extending it to include Bank Holiday Mondays.

Motion 56 (Westmeath): This motion deals with special rules for Juvenile suspension. If passed, the fixed penalty for a player who has been ordered off for committing a 7.2(b) Category 3 or 4 infraction while playing in an Under 12 grade competition would be debarment from playing for the remainder of the Game, to include any extra-time.

These infractions in question are very serious ones that include striking or attempting to strike with the arm, elbow, hand, or knee; striking or attempting to strike with the head; striking with a hurley; and stamping.

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