Like all club and county units the GAA holds an annual general meeting known as An Chomhdháil / Congress and this event moves to different locations around the country on an annual basis.
At this annual meeting, motions calling for policy or rule changes - many of which have materialised at club level - are debated and voted upon by delegates representing all counties and other administrative units to determine whether the proposals are entered into the Official Guide of the Association (An Treoraí Oifigiúil). This is the guide by which the activities and affairs of the Association are governed.
The position of President is the highest elected representative position in the Association and the role is filled every three years. Role holders may only occupy this position for one term.
He works with the Ard Stiúrthóir in the development of policy and direction for the Association and also fills an ambassadorial role for the Association at official functions from club level upwards. The President also appoints committees at the outset of his tenure that are charged with running various different aspects of the Association’s affairs. Ard Stiúrthóir The position of Director General is a full-time non-elected position. The holder of this role is charged with the day to day running of the Association and he works with an tUachtarán devising policy and strategy on a medium to long-term basis.
An Chomhdháil / Congress
The GAA’s Congress is the equivalent of an annual general meeting and involves representatives from every province, county board and sub-section of the Association. In addition to electing the Uachtarán every three years, Congress also oversees changes to rule, which sometimes require votes.
Central Council is the governing body of the Association between Congresses. It frequently endorses proposals put forward by management that do not require the approval of Congress. It includes representatives from every county in addition to those from other bodies under the GAA umbrella including the schools, players and overseas sectors.
The Association’s Management committee consists of a total of 15 members and is made up all four provincial chairpersons in addition to other elected and appointed representatives. The GAA President chairs this body.
The GAA is organised on provincial and county lines and has been widely credited with enshrining and enhancing the status of both entities within Irish life. The Provincial Councils are organised alongside historical lines with Leinster catering for the 12 counties in the east, Ulster nine in the north, Munster six in the south and Connacht five in the west. The counties elect members to represent them at provincial level, and in addition to the organisation of provincial competitions, both at club and county level, the provinces also play an important role in the distribution of central funds designated for investment in facilities at both club and county level.
After the club the county unit is the most commonly recognised sub section of the GAA and the inter-county rivalries spawned between different hurling and football teams was one of the reasons for the rapid rise and growth of the Association after its formation in Thurles, Co Tipperary back in 1884. All 32 counties are represented by a county board which is charged with overseeing all GAA activity within that county unit. In addition to organising its county teams, at all grades in both codes, the county board plans fixtures lists for clubs and oversees the general activity of counties across their county areas.
Certain large counties divide their counties into sub section to assist with the organisation and administration of their affairs including club competitions. This practice is more common with large counties that have a considerable area to cover. Cork and Tipperary are just two counties who run their affairs on this basis.
The club is the most numerous and important unit of the Association. There are in the region of 2,300 clubs based in Ireland and combined they provide a network for the GAA in every area of the country. Our clubs train and foster the players that eventually go on to represent their respective counties at the highest level but they also compete in their own competitions, right up to Croke Park finals at national level. In many cases our clubs serve as community outlets for social interaction promoting as they do different community based activities in addition to the promotion of our games and culture.
The rapid growth in the number of clubs overseas has been one of the recent success stories of the GAA and the figure now stands at 330 ensuring football and hurling is played on all continents at a variety of grades and age levels.
The club is the bed rock of the Association.