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5 key questions around the Mayo GAA saga

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NEW YORK FUNCTION Mayo GAA Board chairman Mike Connelly is pictured speaking at the Mayo GAA International Supporters Foundation fund-raiser in New York last May. On the left is Tim O’Leary.

Comment
Edwin McGreal

IN order to bring some clarity to some key issues regarding the ongoing saga between the Mayo County Board and the Mayo GAA International Supporters Foundation, we believe it’s fair to suggest that Mayo GAA need to be asked — and have to answer — the following sets of questions. We also argue why these are important questions

QUESTION 1
WERE the terms and conditions set out by the chairman of the Mayo GAA International Supporters Foundation, Tim O’Leary, to the Mayo GAA Board chairman, Mike Connelly, on April 9 signed off by the Board chairman or any other officer? Were all officers and members of the executive aware of the terms requested by Mr O’Leary?
WHY?
THIS is the nub of the whole debacle yet, to our knowledge, no clarity on the above questions has been provided. All GAA clubs in the county have a right to know if this was a consensus decision reached by the executive or a decision taken unilaterally by one board officer or by a small group of power brokers in Mayo GAA.
The answer will provide huge clarity as to who Mayo GAA have managed this saga and if the key decision was taken in an open and transparent manner. It might also raise further questions about general practices and decision making within the board.

QUESTION 2
WHAT is the official status of groups fundraising outside of county boards and what controls or limitations are in place in this regard?
WHY?
RAISING funds outside of the sole control of the County Board is what Tim O’Leary sought and apparently had approved last April. In their latest communication with Mayo GAA solicitor Charlie Gilmartin, the Foundation asks for clarity and information on this point.
The Board have, in the past, insisted that all funds raised in their name remain under their control. As this is a key issue to the Foundation, can the board provide clarity on the current status of this situation and explain why this is the case?

QUESTION 3
IN an email dated October 20, Tim O’Leary says he was given the commercial contract between sponsors Elverys and Mayo GAA by a senior county board officer. Which officer released this significant commercial agreement? Is there a non-disclosure agreement with Elverys?
WHY?
GOVERNANCE reaches beyond financial management. The leaking of this document goes to the heart of what many perceive as poor practices within Mayo GAA.
Regardless of the questions raised by Mr O’Leary about the debate over value for money from Elverys – sources in the board insist it is a lucrative contract for Mayo GAA – the fact a leading officer, according to Mr O’Leary, gave him the document shows how poorly the board can handle such valuable and crucial commercial relationships. Is the leaking of this contract just the tip of the iceberg? Are there further examples of unprofessional conduct?

QUESTION 4
WHY call an emergency County Board meeting in November and not call an emergency meeting in the aftermath of the claims by Tim O’Leary of the Foundation in September?
WHY?
THE delay in calling a crisis meeting after the September county board meeting was only exacerbated by the board not meeting as planned on October 15.
Yet, when they finally met on October 29, two more meetings followed within eight days. The haste with which the board called a meeting to address public statements by some Mayo GAA clubs, yet the delay in addressing the core issues begs questions as to where the focus of the board truly lies.
During the summer, several Mayo senior team selections were leaked to The Connaught Telegraph in advance of them being officially announced.
Were the board as concerned about leaks from inside the executive then as they were about clubs issuing public statements disputing the board’s version of recent events?
This is a further question as to the board’s focus.

QUESTION 5
WHY was there no Mayo GAA representation at the GAA’s Special Congress in Cork?
How many members of the Mayo GAA Executive were asked to travel?
Did any officer consult with Mayo manager James Horan as to what his thoughts were about the various proposed rule changes at the Special Congress?
Similarly were players, managers and referees in the county consulted?
WHY?
THIS is almost a separate issue, but the decision not to send any representatives to congress greatly angered many ‘GAA people’ we have spoken to.
It bordered on arrogance, as Kevin McStay argued recently in these pages, and showed very poor judgment. Perhaps it spoke of how frantic things were but the given answers – clashes with the County Senior and Intermediate Football Finals – do not wash well at all.
Was every member of the executive canvassed as to their availability or did some officers of the board decide to just not bother sending anyone?
There are quite a few unanswered questions still hanging in the air.

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