Child Welfare & Protection

The Association and its sister organisations recently launched (December 2014) online version of

Our Games – Our Code, the joint Code of Best Practice in Youth Sport.  The Club and County Children’s Officer

This Code has been agreed between the GAA, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, the Camogie Association, GAA Handball Ireland and the Rounders Council of Ireland.

The Code replaces all previous Codes and is a mandatory Code of Best Practice for all Gaelic Games Associations in our work with underage player s. It is a comprehensive good practice guidance publication and we are anxious that as many players, coaches, parents and other Club personnel have immediate access to its contents. The Code is also available in Disc format (not printed) form the National Children’s Office. For more information or a disc, please contact the GAA National Children’s Officer, Gearóid Ó Maoilmhichíl at 01-8363222 or

The Gaelic Athletic Association is committed to creating and maintaining the safest possible environment for all young people who wish to partic ipate in our Gaelic Games and activities. We will take all practicable steps to protect them from discernible forms of abuse, from harm, discrimination or degrading treatment and shall respect their rights, wishes and feelings.

We do this by:

  • Recognising that all children have the right to be protected from harm.
  • Ensuring that all of our coaches and volunteers are carefully recruited and selected and that they accept responsibility for ensuring the well-being of children in their care.
  • Responding swiftly and appropriately to protect the welfare of children who participate in our games and related activities.
  • Providing parents and children with the opportunity to voice any concerns that they may have.
  • Appointing Children’s Officers in each of our Clubs and at County Board level.
  • Appointing a National Children’s Officer to oversee the implementation of good child protection and welfare practices within the Association.
  • Appointing a Designated Person in each Club and County who will liaise with the statutory authorities as appropriate.
  • Appointing a National Designated Person to assist i n the processing of child protection and welfare matters.
  • Ensuring that all allegations of abuse of young people are confidentially dealt with in accordance the Association’s Guidelines for Dealing with Allegations of Abuse (Fourth Edition 2009) and with statutory guidelines and relevant legislation.
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of our Child Protection procedures and policies on an ongoing basis.
  • Ensuring that members, coaches, team mentors, administrators, parents/guardians and spectators sign up to and adhere to our Code of Behaviour.

For more information on the role of the Children’s Officer and any advice that clubs may need contact the following

  • Galway: Pat Monaghan
  • Mayo: Paraic Walsh
  • Leitrim: Terence Boyle
  • Roscommon: Oliver Donagher
  • Sligo: Eamonn Mullin
  • National Children’s Officer: Gearóid Ó Maoilmhichíl –

For further and more detailed information on this role within the Club, consult the Child Welfare section of the GAA

Garda Vetting Process

The Gaelic Athletic Association (Cumann Lúthchleas Gael) is pleased to confirm the implementation of Garda Vetting in the Association as we promote best practice in the recruitment and selection of persons to work with children in the GAA.

Garda Vetting

Garda Vetting is but one part of the overall recommended GAA recruitment and selection procedures for those who work on our behalf in areas of responsibility with children, young people and vulnerable adults, or who may at a later stage seek to work in such areas of responsibility. Garda vetting, which is the pre-checking of an applicant’s background for criminal convictions or prosecutions is recommended by the Irish Sports Council, by Sports NI in Northern Ireland and as part of Children First – the National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. Vetting and Police checks have been utilised by many Governmental agencies and by sport s and community based organisations for a number of years.

Guidance for completing Garda Vetting forms 2 a NEW GAA Garda Vetting Form July 2014

The GAA and Vetting

It is no longer possible or permissible for an individual to have a vetting application processed for themselves. Vetting applications will only be accepted from organisations that have been recognised by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) to fulfill such functions. The GAA is recognised by the GCVU to carry out vetting on behalf of our members and a number of Authorised Signatories have been selected by the GAA to facilitate this role.

The GAA has agreed to the implementation of vetting for all persons who on behalf of the Association work in any capacity with children and young people in the delivery of our games or activites. In effect this means that any person working on behalf of the Association or on behalf of any of our clubs with people under the age of 18 years of age will be required to be vetted.

NEW GAA Garda Vetting Form July 2014

How can you avail of vetting in the GAA?

Step 1: A vetting applicant, i.e. an under age coach, men tor, manager etc. will receive a GAA Vetting Application Form from the Club’s Children’s Officer or from a nominated person in their club. This form must be completed in full by the applicant and collected locally (in the club) or forwarded directly to a nominated person who will collate these forms at County level. Forms should be collected in a sealed envelope and not opened by club personnel.

Step 2: Forms are forwarded to the County Board nominated Vetting Co-Ordinator who will only check forms for accuracy and will return incorrectly completed forms to applicants. The County Board Vetting Co-Ordinator will also record the name and address of each applicant on a ‘batch form’ and send this electronically to the National Children’s Officer in Croke Park. A guide to completing the vetting form is attached to each form. (In some instances the role of County Vetting Co-Ordinator may be fulfilled by a Provincial Co-Ordinator).

Step 3: All forms are then sent by secure post to the National Children’s Officer, GAA, Croke Park, Dublin 3. All forms must be sent to the (NCO) in Croke Park and not to An Garda Síochána.
The NCO will then process all correctly completed forms with the GCVU. Processed forms will on their return contain a statement that there are no convictions recorded against the individual in the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere, or a statement of all convictions and/or prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, in the State or elsewhere as the case may be.

Step 4: Following the processing of the vetting form it is the GAA National Children’s Officer who will in form each applicant individually by letter if their application is or is no being recommended for acceptance.

In most instances it is convictions and/or prosecutions of a most serious nature and particularly against children/minors that MAY deem a person unsuitable to work with children in the GAA.
Please note that a stated conviction or unsuccessful prosecution MAY have NO bearing whatsoever on the acceptance of an individual in the Association and it is recommend that all cases be treated individually and confidentially and that they be assessed as per the requirements of the post/role and the work that it entails.

Step 5: If the recommendation is positive the applicant will a ‘GAA Vetting Acceptance Letter’ letter confirming this and requesting them to furnish their club with the letter of acceptance.

Step 6: If the recommendation is negative and if the applicant is not being recommended for acceptance a letter informing them of this decision will be sent to them by the GAA National Children’s Officer. The applicant will be afforded an opportunity to appeal this decision within 14 days and the process of appeal will be outlined to the applicant. A specially appointed Appeals Group will hear this appeal and will issue their findings directly to the applicant.

Step 7: If the appeals Committee recommends acceptance of the vetting application Step 5 comes into operation.

Step 8: If the Appeals Committee upholds the recommendation of rejection the applicant and their club will be duly informed. Over a period of time all persons who on behalf of the GAA work in any capacity with children/young people and vulnerable adults will have furnished their club with a Garda Vetting letter of acceptance. The absence of such a letter will deem a person ineligible to work in such a capacity.
The GAA Central data base will retain the vetting application details. Clubs will be issued with a list of persons who receive the Garda Vetting ‘letter of acceptance’ from the National Children’s Officer.

For more information on Garda Vetting contact the following;
Galway: Pat Monaghan
Mayo: Jerry Henry
National Children’s Officer: Gearóid Ó Maoilmhichíl –

Or for forms to apply for Garda Vetting click on the following links

Code of Behaviour

This Code of Behaviour complements the Irish Sports Council (ISC) Code of Ethics and Our Games – Our Code, the joint Code of Best Practice in Youth Sport and addresses the appropriate levels of behaviour, practice and conduct required from our young players, officials, coaches, trainers, mentors, supporters, parents/guardians and clubs.

Download the fifth edition of the GAA Code of Behaviour Underage. This is the most recent edition as of October 2014.

This Code of Behaviour is jointly promoted by Cumann Lúthchleas Gael (The Gaelic Athletic Association) , Cumann Camógaíochta (Camogie Association), Cumann Peil Gael na mBan (Ladies Gaelic Football Association) , Comhairle Liathróid Láimhe na hÉireann (Irish Handball Council) and Cluiche Corr na hÉireann (Rounders Council of Ireland) as we promote good practice and assist those who promote and deliver our games to the highest possible standards.

GAA Respect Initiative

Strategic Aim:

We will introduce a detailed initiative to promote respect and discipline towards match officials and each other.

The GAA Respect Initiative aims to promote positive behaviour and to ensure that an enriching environment is provided for the promotion and development of Gaelic Games. This includes respect for and from all participants on and around the field. The initiative is currently being piloted in four counties (Armagh, Waterford, Kilkenny and Sligo) at all levels up to U-12 with national roll out at this level planned in 2010.

Download a Poster on the Respect Initiative .

Download a Toolkit on the Respect Initiative. This toolkit has been developed to provide Clubs and Counties access toartwork and templates for the various materials being used to promote this important initiative.

How does it work?

  • Players and coaches line up behind their manager be fore and after the game to shake hands with the referee, opposing players and coaches
  • Referees communicate decisions to players in an effective manner
  • A merit award – based on sporting endeavour and fair play – is awarded to players/teams at the end of each season/blitz
  • Supporters remain in designated areas at the side of the pitch for the full duration of each game.
  • Each unit must strive to achieve maximum participation for all players
  • Referees to be welcomed to the GAA Club.

What is involved?

  • Implementing the Code of Behaviour
  • Coach & Referee Education (Young Whistlers)
  • Designated Spectators` Area
  • Go Games Programme
  • Strong Club Leadership
  • Respect Awareness Programme
  • Education Programme
  • Recognition and Merit Awards

A Checklist for Behaviour

  • Responsible
  • Encouraging
  • Supportive
  • Positive
  • Enabling
  • Considerate
  • Tolerant

Managing Players

The referee will work with the captain and coaches to manage the game effectively. Referees will control the game by applying the rules of the game and by dealing with any instances of dissent firmly. In the event of a player using foul language or behaving in an unsporting manner it is recommended that:

  • A free is awarded to the opposition and the player is informed that he will be asked to leave the game in the event of repeat behaviour.
  • In the event of repeated abusive language or unsporting behaviour, the referee instructs the coach to replace the offending player and the game is re-commenced after this.

Managing the Sideline

  • In the event of a person – other than a player – using foul language or behaving in an unsporting manner it is recommended that:
  • The matter is brought to the attention of the designated team representative
  • The representative reminds the person concerned of his/her responsibilities
  • Where the behaviour continues, the game may be terminated
  • A full report is provided by the referee to the committee with responsibility for the fixture. Download an Information Booklet on the GAA Respect Initiative .
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