Code of Ethics-- Contacting under-age Players in the GAA

Any enquires have been made regarding the GAA good practice recommendations on the use of text messages or emails when passing on information for the attention of under age players.

What the GAA has proposed is contained in our Code of Best Practice, launched in April 2009, at our Annual Congress in Cork and in our Joint Code of Behaviour. * The relevant information is also highlighted as part of the delivery of our Child Protection Awareness workshops nationwide.

What is the GAA proposing re texting/emailing information to underage players?
The GAA policy states that when we pass on information regarding games, training or other activities for the attention of our under age players that we do so via group texts and that these group texts should be sent to the parents of under age players. The same good practice guidance applies when using emails. The team Coach, Club Registrar or the Club Rúnaí should obtain these relevant contact numbers/emails when an under age player is being registered on an annual basis. This recommendation only applies to underage players i.e. under 18 year of age.

Are there any exceptions to the proposal on texting?
If, for whatever reason, a parent/guardian insists or requests that the information is sent directly by the club to their child and gives this request in writing the club may, if they so wish, accede to this request. However, if the club accedes to the request the information can only be sent as part of a group text and cannot be communicated individually to the under age player. A parental or guardian request to have such information sent directly to their child may be refused by the Club in the interest of good practice.

The GAA would regard the individual texting of an under age player by their coach or mentor as being inappropriate and unacceptable.

How do we interpret an underage player?

An under age player is a person who is eligible to play in a game or event for persons under 18 years of age. Legislation in Ireland also defines a child as any person under 18 years of age and parents/guardians therefore have a particular level of responsibility for their child's welfare while they remain under 18 yrs of age. (We use the terms child and young person frequently when we refer to under age players.)

Can we text county underage development squads and minor squads?
The recommended group text mechanism is still preferred but if you have parental/guardian permission to group text under age players you may avail of this option.

What if an underage player is on the club's senior panel?
The same recommendation applies and parental/guardian permission must be sought if you wish to directly communicate with the young person as part of a group text scheme.

E-Vetting in the GAA

Please read the information and guidance below before commencing this process.

The online vetting form  click on this link to open form here.

Vetting in the GAA
The GAA has a long established principle of vetting any person who, on our behalf, works with children or vulnerable adults in our Association. This principle is enshrined in rule through our Code of Best Practice in Youth Sport and has become part of the overall recruitment and selection process for those who wish to work with us in the GAA, in a voluntary or paid role.

Vetting services for the Association are currently overseen by the National Childrens Office in Croke Park while Comhairle Uladh acts on our behalf in coordinating AccessNI services.

Our international units adhere to the legislative vetting and police background checks that are required in the jurisdiction in which they operate.

Legislation
The National Vetting Bureau (Children & Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 – 2016 commenced on 29th April 2016 and from that date a statutory obligation was placed upon the GAA to ensure that all persons who on our behalf undertook ‘relevant work’ with children has been vetted prior to taking up that role in Ireland.

The term ‘relevant work’ in the GAA includes any role of responsibility such as coaching, managing or training underage teams or indeed adult teams that contain any player under 18 yrs. of age. It also applies to organising underage activities or refereeing underage games.

The Act also established the National Vetting Bureau (NVB) to oversee the e-vetting services previously administered by the Garda Central Vetting Unit.

Who needs to be vetted?
In the GAA any person who carries out a role of responsibility such as coaching, managing or training underage teams or indeed adult teams that contain any player under 18 yrs. of age must be vetted. It also applies to organising underage activities or refereeing underage games. Thereafter, each club shall decide if other roles merit a person being vetted.

Any person who was working with children in the GAA prior to the commencement of the Act and was not previously vetted for that role may continue in that capacity but must apply as a matter of priority to be vetted by the GAA under what is termed ‘retrospective vetting’.  This term and these conditions are allowed for in the Act.

What if the applicant is under 18 yrs. of age?
GAA vetting services are available to any person over 16 yrs. of age fulfilling a role of responsibility with children or vulnerable adults. A parental consent form (NVB Parent/Guardian Consent Form) must be completed, this is available here, for applicants between 16 and 18 yrs. of age

Is it an offence if you are not vetted?
It is now a criminal offence, for a person acting on behalf of the GAA, or for the GAA as an Association to permit any person to commence working with children on behalf of the Association without that person first obtaining a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau in respect of the role for which they have been recruited.  It is also a breach of GAA rule if you are working with children or vulnerable adults on behalf of the Association and have not been vetted.

E-Vetting
When the Vetting Act came into being on 29 April 2016 the GAA became one of the first organisations to replace ‘paper vetting’ with a new on line or E –Vetting system.

E-Vetting replaces all previous paper vetting systems which also brings us in line with similar e-vetting services as coordinated by Ulster GAA for AccessNI.

How can you be vetted through the GAA?
Vetting for a member of the GAA involves 3 easy to follow steps as follows:

Step 1 The initial application vetting process at Club level
You must in the first instance complete the GAA E-Vetting ID Form. This form compels you to provide proof of your identity to the Club Children’s Officer, who must verify that they have received the ID verification as required.  The ID verification may be retained by the Club Children’s Officer for the duration of the e-vetting process or it may be attached by you at Step 2 to the On Line Vetting application Form.

The primary purpose of this form is for you to provide your name, address, club, role for which you applied, and to present your ID (e.g. copy of your passport plus a utility bill showing your current address) plus a valid email address for future reference. The full list of documents which are accepted for verification can be found here
Click here for the GAA E-Vetting ID Form

Step 2 Completing the Vetting Application form
Following completion of the initial process you will then be directed to www.gaa.ie where the GAA on-line E-Vetting Application Form is available to download.

Once you complete the GAA on-line E-Vetting Application Form the information provided is forwarded to the NVB by the GAA and you will receive an on-line NVB Vetting Form to complete.

The details entered will be emailed back to you, for your own records.  Your Club Secretary will also receive an email informing him/her that you have applied as a member of the club, to be issued with the NVB Vetting Application Form.
Click here for GAA on-line E-Vetting application form

Step 3 NVB Vetting Application form
The NVB will issue you with the NVB Vetting Application form.  This will be issued to the email address you provided in Step 2.

Completing this form is a confidential matter between you and the NVB.  All sections of the form including current and previous addresses, email address and contact telephone numbers, information on convictions and prosecutions (if any), plus other information will be required when completing the form.

Once all sections of the form have been answered this then completes your application process for E Vetting in the GAA and within a short period of time you shall be contacted by the GAA to informing you as to the outcome of the vetting application.

You and your Club Secretary will be notified when the vetting process has been completed.