“There was no grants agreement; there is no grants agreement; and there will be no grants agreement unless it gets full and proper support at Congress.”
This is the conclusion drawn from the DRA hearing on Friday night. Solicitors for the GAA's Central Council argued at the hearing that an agreement had not been reached at its meeting on 8 December. At the time, however, the Central Council was interpreted as having rubber-stamped the grants agreement and the perception was that the deal had been done. Instead, we now understand the situation to be very different. A letter sent to the DRA by the GAA's solicitors last week instructed that:
Discussions between the GPA and Government bodies on the structure and content of a possible agreement have already begun and will continue over the coming weeks.
When that agreement has been negotiated and is in final form, it will be submitted to Ard Comhairle for approval.
"Agreement will not be finally approved or implemented unless the agreement in final form is presented to Congress and approved. Accordingly, if Ard Comhairle approves the agreement, it will be on condition that the agreement is approved by Congress."
This means there is no fait accompli. More significantly, there must be a debate. That’s what Of one Belief have been campaigning for since 29 November last, because that’s the way the GAA should do its business.
This also means that the battle has just begun. All gaels who believe in the Association's amateur ethos need to make sure their views are represented at Congress. That’s the challenge before the meeting of GAA's Annual Congress in Sligo on 11 and 12 April to make the decision.
Everyone associated with “Of One Belief” remains firm in their belief, backed by legal advice, that any grants/awards scheme for GAA players breaks Rule 11 of the Association.
If you do too, join www.ofonebelief.org. Make your voice heard.