The GAA has unveiled its latest strategic plan to take the association through to 2026. The report, ‘Aontas 2026: Towards a GAA for all’ was launched at the St Fechin club in Louth on Monday in the presence of GAA chairman Larry McCarthy and Director General Tom Ryan.
In his introductory message, the President explained why the plan was called “Aontas (Union) 2026”: “The title also reflects our commitment to strengthen the bond we have with our members and supporters and to make GAA a more diverse and inclusive organization where everyone feels welcome to participate in our games and activities.
Among the pressing issues identified were the merger of the GAA with its sister camogie and women’s football organisations, the need to create a better environment to encourage the recruitment of referees, the strengthening of relationships with the education sector and the broadening the reach of hurling.
There will also be an increase in the club’s fund from €3m to €5m.
A presentation by the GAA’s Head of Organizational Development Ruairí Harvey outlined key areas, including the aim of forming “an association to govern all Gaelic gaming codes”, an endorsement of the governance of decisions of the association and its counterparts in women’s games, camogie and football, to seek integration.
This was the main recommendation in the governance and operations focus area. Other areas of interest were Games, People, Clubs, Communication and Resources.
A particular concern in the area of people was the recruitment of referees with the aim of “allocating the necessary resources to develop the pool of referees, recast the culture of respect for them and improve the standards of refereeing”.
In the field of games, the need to review the relationship of the GAA with the education sector is recognized in the objective.
“To assess the purpose, role and impact of the association in the education sector to assist schools and higher education institutions to promote Gaelic games and to strengthen relationships which promote mutual support and investment.”
In that same section is the commitment to: “Provide needs-based investment to promote and develop hurling in Division Two and Three Hurling Counties”.
Until this report, the GAA had updated its strategic plan every three years, but the decision was made to extend the planning interval to five years from when the previous one expired in 2021 .
It is described as being informed as GAA’s largest consultation to date: 15,000 surveys, 150 individual submissions and 80 group submissions and 12 focus groups.
“Plans like this are for dusty shelves,” Ryan said in his introduction to the plan, “if they don’t have the required buy-in from those for whom they are intended, they will benefit from organization-wide improvement.
“To this end, the engagement we have had during the initial consultation phase of the process has been extremely encouraging and insightful.
“We were delighted to receive over 15,000 responses to our public strategy survey which was expertly analyzed by KPMG’s business intelligence unit, and 230 semi-structured submissions outlining the hopes and dreams to term of our key stakeholders for the growth of Gaelic games.”
The plan will be overseen by an implementation committee and subject to a mid-term review in 2024.
Steering group: Larry McCarthy (GAA Chairman), Tom Ryan (GAA Chief Executive), Ruairí Harvey (GAA Organization Development Manager), Shane Flanagan (Johnstownbridge, Kildare), Paul Foley (Patrickswell, Limerick), Pat Gilroy (St Vincent’s, Dublin), Prof. David Hassan (St Mary’s, Derry), Dr Elish Kelly (Pádraig Pearses, Roscommon), Conor McCarthy (O’Donovan Rossa, Cork), Tim Murphy Brosna, (Kerry).