I have very little interest in and even less knowledge of Gaelic games or how the GAA does its business.
But when I read about the recent dispute involving some guy called Diarmuid Connolly I instantly recognised the connections between the dysfunctional GAA disciplinary regime and our hopelessly corrupt political system.
For years the GAA has been struggling to establish an effective disciplinary system. The organisation has failed utterly in its aims principally because of its abject inability to face the reality of what needs to be done to clean up the sport.
Instead of creating a simple, easy to implement system of control and discipline similar to soccer and rugby the GAA has, for years, been trying out ever more complex systems of rules and regulations.
The creation of convoluted, labyrinthine systems of ‘accountability’ has just one consequence – the impression that there is accountability where none actually exists.
So, for example, if a player commits a red card offence in soccer or rugby, he’s immediately sent off, no question.
In Gaelic football a player who commits a red card offence may be handed a black card which means he’s off but, hilariously, he can be replaced by a substitute. The black card is, in effect, a mechanism that allows accountability to be bypassed.
Our corrupt political system operates along similar lines of denial and pretence. For example, if a Taoiseach illegally sacks a Garda commissioner an investigation can conclude that he’s guilty but also innocent thus creating a reality vacuum where accountability can be discarded.
Another similarity between the GAA and our corrupt political system is the existence of a whole series of committees and procedures to deal with alleged wrongdoing.
So we have the GAA Central Hearings Committee (CHC), the Central Appeals Committee (CAC) and the committee of committees, the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA). (For some reason all these committees remind me of the old Soviet Union)
This over abundance of cumbersome regulatory bodies is ideal for avoiding reality/justice. Wrongdoing can be put on the long finger until the initial crime becomes irrelevant/historical or the system can act as a mechanism to filter out accountability.
For example, a player like Diarmuid Connolly can commit a very serious foul but by the time his wrongdoing reaches the end of all the committee investigations (filtering) – he’s effectively found innocent.
Similarly, in our corrupt political system we have tribunals, committees, commissions of inquiry, reports, investigations of every colour and form, all established to one purpose – the avoidance of accountability.
So a politician can break the law but after a long drawn out investigation the crime is filtered/delayed to such an extent that he can be, miraculously, declared innocent.
This inability to deal honestly and efficiently with wrongdoing in the GAA can result in a loss of credibility and respect.
In the political sphere the consequences are far more serious for citizens, ranging in degree from serious financial loss to death.