Belfast Telegraph

Forcing more women into top GAA roles would be wrong, says first female chair

By Michael Verney

Tyrone GAA chairwoman Roisin Jordan - the first woman to be appointed to the top role in a county board - has rejected gender quotas proposed by the Republic's Minister for Sport, believing they are "not feasible".

Jordan, who was elected two years ago, has worked at "grassroots" between club and county for the past 15 years and feels "gradual change" is a better fit for the GAA.

After serving her "apprenticeship" she will likely bid for an Ulster Council position when her five-year tenure ends in 2019 - but she feels the notion of the GAA reaching the 30% female quota by then is "not obtainable". In a major policy proposal being brought to the Irish Cabinet by Minister Patrick O'Donovan, associations such as the GAA and rugby's IRFU will be forced to comply with strict gender quotas.

"Not really," Jordan said when asked if the proposal is practical. "I can't see it being feasible now, so I can't. I think the time frame is just not obtainable. How can you vote people into positions when they haven't got the experience?

"Our association is a voluntary association. If people don't present themselves to be elected you can't just pick them out and throw them in just to bring it up to the 30%.

"I know there's a lot of help available, I can speak to anyone for advice, but I just don't know how they're expecting us to put people in positions like that. It's not a tick box exercise within the GAA, we have to get the right people in place.

"Every day is different. There's days when you have no problems and everything goes smooth and others when there are difficulties; experience helps you to deal with it. It would be extremely difficult without that because no matter how much I knew as vice-chair in Tyrone, I couldn't have went into the chair without experience."

The GAA's Central Council currently has no female representatives but Jordan feels it's "inevitable" that more women will be promoted to senior positions, but the change should be organic rather than enforced.

"If the Minister looked back through the history of the GAA we haven't done much wrong but change is coming - it's slow but it is coming. It has to be gradual though, it shouldn't be all of a sudden like this," Jordan added.

Belfast Telegraph


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