Child Welfare & Protection

Child Protection Awareness

As part of the basic GAA Approved Foundation/Award 1 course each person must complete a “Child Protection Awareness Workshop” before they receive certification and its up to the club to provide this workshop for participants.

Code of Ethics Basic Awareness/Child Protection Workshop (3 hrs)

This workshop is for the benefit of everyone involved in children’s sport (children, parents/guardians, sports leaders’, etc). It provides introductory information on codes of conduct, bullying, recruitment, etc. as well as child protection guidelines.

By following the principles, policy and practical guidelines contained in the Code, sports leaders are playing their part in providing a safe and enjoyable environment in which children can learn and thrive.

A person appointed to the Club Children’s Officer position in a club must have completed the Child Welfare & Protection Basic Awareness workshop. This course will help the Club Children’s Officer to carry out the function of their role in the club and support the implementation of best practice in the club.

G.A.A. Garda Vetting

The Introduction of Garda Vetting at National and Local level by An Cumann Lúthchleas Gael (GAA). Cumann Lúthchleas Gael is pleased to confirm the commencement 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, is but one part of the overall recommended GAA recruitment and selection procedures for those who on our behalf work in areas of responsibility with children/young people and vulnerable adults, or who may do at a later stage. 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 are utilised by many sports organisations and by others for a number of years

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 so recognised by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU).  The GAA is an organisation 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 fulfill 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.

How can you avail of vetting in the GAA?

Step 1: A vetting applicant, i.e. an under age coach, mentor, 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 has to 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.

Step 2:Forms are forwarded to a County Board nominated person who will only check forms for accuracy and will return incorrectly completed forms to applicants. The County Board nominated person 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.

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 National Children’s Officer (NCO) in Croke Park for processing 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.  In most instances it is only 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 4: Following the processing of the vetting form it is the GAA National Children’s Officer who will inform each applicant individually by letter if their application is or is not being recommended for acceptance.

Step 5: If the recommendation is positive the applicant will receive a 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.

For more information on Child Protection Awareness Workshops and Garda Vetting please Contact
Oifigeach Leanaí (Children’s Officer)
Noel O’Callaghan
086 2594421

Useful Downloads

NEW GAA Garda Vetting Form

GAA Code of Behaviour

Download Child Welfare Guidelines


Code Of Ethics – GAA Code of Best Practice in Youth Sport

The GAA Code of Best Practice in Youth Sport is a detailed document. For ease of use, each section has been broken down and is available to download below:

Download a full copy of the GAA Code of Best Practice in Youth Sport.

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.


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

How does it work?

  • Players and coaches line up behind their manager before 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.

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.

Student Welfare

Students, Clubs and all those involved in Post Primary GAA should inform themselves of the following initiatives run by the GAA:

Cardiac Screening Awareness

The GAA now advise that the most effective way to identify risk is for players over the age of 14 to undergo cardiac screening on one occasion. It is also advised that this process be repeated before the age of 25. Players should consult their team or family doctor if they wish to get screened and screening should consist of completion of the GAA’s Cardiac Screening Questionnaire, a Physical Examination and an ECG. For further Information click on the link:

Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention

The GAA’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) programme, a joint initiative with the HSE, is a unique undertaking in the Irish sporting context. Its mission is simple: To promote healthy life-choices by reducing the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol and other drugs.

GAA Tackling Bullying

GAA Tackling Bullying is a new training resource that the GAA developed in response to a growing awareness of the impact of bullying in society and particularly in sport.The programme consists of a two-hour training workshop suitable for Coaches, Parents, Players and other Club personnel and also includes a range of publicity materials for Clubs.The drafting and piloting phase of this programme has taken more than a year with 10 pilot workshops and a number of consultation meetings with underage players, parents and coaches.The two-hour programme may be run in tandem and complimentary to any other educational and or community anti-bullying initiatives and is suitable for delivery at both adult and under age levels.

GAA Tackling Bullying Tutors, and their contact details;

Cork Irene Hogan 087 6548928
Cork Mairéad Ní Mhaoileoin 086 3418541

For further information on the GAA Tackling Bullying Programme, please contact the National Children’s Office by emailing or by phone (01) 8658600