The IFA's rule changes intended to encourage and enable diversity of representation have again failed to be adopted by the association's ruling body.

Last Thursday, the national council, IFA's 55-strong ruling body, considered the motions for a second time. They had been brought forward in June, but caused division.

With CAP at a crucial stage, it was decided to hold off until the autumn. Following a long debate that occasionally became heated, it was decided not to proceed to a vote.

While the IFA must be given credit for initiating the report and coming up with proposed rule changes, the whole saga is now in danger of becoming a negative for the association.

Battle lines

The division of opinion was largely along geographical lines, with most support coming from the southern half of the country, with opposition centred around two blocks, one in Connacht and the other north of the Dublin-Galway line.

The rule changes would see new term limits imposed. Some initial opposition was because the rule changes could have limited the future path in the association for some current serving officers.

Tim Cullinan, Brian Rushe, Elizabeth Ormiston and Nigel Reneghan together in Cavan 10 days ago. Reneghan disagreed strongly with the diversity rule change proposals brought forward last Thursday to IFA's national council, and won the day over the president and deputy president.

The argument was also made that the talent pool of people willing to serve in often demanding county and national officer roles is rather light in parts of the country and these rules could lead to vacancies.

The proposals were supported by president Tim Cullinan, deputy president Brian Rushe - who led on their introduction - Martin Stapleton, the chair of the rules and privileges committee.

The regional chairs were split, with Francie Gorman (south Leinster) and Harold Kingston (Munster) supportive, but Pat Murphy (Connacht) unconvinced.

Nigel Reneghan, the outgoing Ulster/north Leinster regional chair, led the charge against the proposals.

A couple of amendments that would have addressed the particular problems facing Reneghan and a handful of others failed to swing the room.

Next steps

The IFA's leadership now has to consider how to proceed. Does the diversity report get binned, does it need a rewrite or do they try council a third time in the future with these same proposals?

The controversial rule changes

Recommendation 3: increase diversity on national council

To create an environment that supports and encourages greater diversity within the leadership of the association, the following rule changes will be introduced:

- No person can serve more than eight years consecutively, or 12 years in total, on national council as county chair, national committee chair or any combination of both without moving forward within the association.

- Once elected to a position on the national officers committee, the only position the officer is eligible for election are other positions on the national officers committee (regional chair, national treasurer/RO, deputy president and president).

Recommendation 4: increase diversity on national committees

To address the under-representation of women at national committee level and support the creation of a more diverse association, the following changes will be introduced:

- The county executives will work towards a targeted 80:20 gender split on all national committees in the lifetime of this strategy. To achieve the target, from 1 January 2020, the term all newly elected officers can serve is a maximum of six two-year terms of office before being required to move forward in the association.

- Macra will be offered a non-voting seat on national committees for a two-year term. Macra must adhere to an 80:20 gender split on the seats they hold on the national committees.