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Academics at Ulster University, Belfast, and Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), Athlone Campus, have launched a policy brief that sets out five key recommendations for how integration might proceed in Gaelic games on the island of Ireland.

Integration in Gaelic Games is based on research underway by Dr Katie Liston (Ulster University), Conor Meyler, and Dr Aoife Lane (both at SHE Research Group, TUS). Together, the research team are exploring changing views on gender equality and what this means for the future of national governing bodies of men’s and women’s sports.

Drawing on their collective expertise, the researchers offer five recommendations which include:

  1. planning for a full integration process
  2. setting out key principles and values
  3. prioritising female representation
  4. developing a funding model based on equity, and
  5. building a new organisation for Gaelic Games.

The Brief is underpinned by a review of international research on mergers and integration, interviews with leaders involved in the formation of one organisation for golf in Ireland, and consideration of the unique cultural context of Gaelic games.

In 2022, the Gaelic Games Association, the Camogie Association and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association agreed, unanimously, that the future integrated structure would be based on ‘one association for all Gaelic games and built on the principle of equality’.

An Integration Steering Group was formed in September 2022 involving representatives of the three associations, chaired by Professor Mary McAleese. A comprehensive listening process is underway this year across all three organisations.

Conor Meyler, a doctoral candidate at TUS’s Athlone Campus, is leading on the project.  Commenting on the policy brief, he said,

“I am delighted to be part of this research project while completing my PhD at TUS. This research will not only have implications for Gaelic games, but also for women’s sport in Ireland in creating a more gender equitable society. As a current club and intercounty player, I am truly excited at the thought of being part of an integrated association in which all players are treated equally.”

Dr Liston, Ulster University, added,

“Integrating separate organisations is always a challenge and, as the research shows, this is especially the case for those separated along traditional gender lines. The research team are committed to the dissemination of impactful research that will benefit women’s sports and build towards real and meaningful gender equality.”

Dr Lane said,

“SHE Research Group and TUS are delighted to support this project through our internal President’s Doctoral Scholarship funding scheme.  Conor, Katie, and I are each deeply embedded in Gaelic games and are keen to see how a new organisation evolves to support males and females equally across all facets of Gaelic games. We are hopeful our work can be helpful in this process.”