JOHN F Kennedy is quoted as saying “The Chinese use two brush strokes
to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the
other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but
recognise the opportunity.”
I have often quoted JFK in the past, and his picture hung in my
granny’s house beside the Pope and St Patrick for many years. However
in the tumultuous times we find ourselves in, it is difficult to see
the positives or find any opportunity in the crisis we now face as a
The wolf is very much at everyone’s door but how we react is going
what defines us as a generation, as the hands of history weight heavy
on our shoulders.
As with so many times of crisis there is always somewhere, an Irish
man or woman leading from the front, and today is no different.
Instead of daily news circles and 24-hour updates, can I recommend you
take a few minutes from your day and listen to Dr Michael Ryan from
the World Health Organisation, an expert with experience of many
global epidemic – his honesty, clarity of thought and direction is a
welcome lighthouse against the chopping waters of today.
He is quoted as saying: “you need to react quickly, you need to go
after the virus, the lessons I have learned in so many Ebola outbreaks
in my career is to be fast, have no regrets, you must be the first
mover, the virus will get you if you do not move quickly,….if you need
to be right before you move you will never win, perfection is the
enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management, speed trumps
GAA clubs around the country are doing their bit to help the community
fightback against the virus; the community leadership and altruism
that has always been the mainstay of the GAA is clear to be seen and
gives us hope for the future.
I commend the Association on taking decisive action in Northern
Ireland when our Executive dithered and looked to Westminster and to
Boris Johnson, whose leadership reflects that of Nero, fiddling while
GAA folk should also be taking decisive action to ensure their club
endures and is capable of bouncing back after this time of crisis.
From an insurance perspective, all GAA sporting activities are to
cease, even individuals using GAA facilities should stop.
If the virus is spread through club facilities and the proper
protective measures are not put in place then a potential liability
for the club could arise.
Unfortunately, club facilities, particularly gyms, should be a no-go
area both north and south of the border for the foreseeable future.
Where clubs are providing food and facilities to the most vulnerable
in society WHO protocols and social distancing should be strictly
adhered to but even then the risk for those providing these services
For clubs that are developing their grounds at present and may have
borrowed substantial amounts of money to fund such projects, where
fund raising such as ticket selling around the doors is no longer
viable, I would advise speaking to your funder as early as possible to
ensure they are aware of the situation and that clubs can restructure
or agree payment holidays as may be required to see clubs through
these turbulent times.
No club or bank, for that matter, would want to enforce security on
sporting facilities, but such an outcome cannot be ruled out so
decisive action is needed.
In terms of any governance activities, awards nights, AGMs or
executive meetings these should all be postponed until further notice.
For those practicing self-isolation, try to limit your media intake to
certified sources, BBC, the Guardian, the Irish Times, for the
avoidance of doubt, the Daily Mail and Donald Trump’s Twitter feed
does not fall in to this category. Stretch at home, read, workout
using body weight routines, keep your mind and body strong as the
storm is going to get worse in the weeks to come.
This is a crisis that we can all get through together by staying
apart, the GAA is important but this is life and death and in these
I prefer to rely on the quote from JFK during his inauguration address
inspiring children and adults to appreciate the importance of civic
action and public service, “Ask not what your country can do for you –
ask what you can do for your country,” This is a call to civic action
and we as GAA members, as human beings must be ready to answer that