‘It is no different to a political party – a leadership contest comes up and there is an election battle’

Irish boxing chiefs are blaming the forthcoming elections in the organisation for much of the current discontent within its ranks.

ddressing an Oireachtas hearing into governance issues within the IABA, Ciaran Kirwan, the chairman of the Board of Directors, said he believed the discontent is not as widespread as has been portrayed.

“What you are witnessing at the moment unfortunately is no different to a political party – a leadership contest comes up and two groups emerge and there is an election battle,” he suggested.

The AGM of the IABA takes place the end of November and the majority of the elected officers in the Central Council are being challenged.

Kirwan told Oireachtas members that he thought ‘a significant part of our membership don’t quite understand the implications of the changes (the IABA have made). They now have full control over the company, they are now the effective shareholders.”

It was revealed at this afternoon’s hearing that on the request of Kirwan, Sport Ireland has hired consultant Brain MacNeice to undertake a governance review of the IABA. The review is currently at consultation stage, according to the outgoing chief executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy.

Said Treacy: “Sport Ireland is supporting a governance review at the request of the IABA. This work has commenced under the highly-regarded consultant Brain MacNeice, who undertook the comprehensive Rio Review.

“Sport Ireland considers it important that this review takes into account feedback from the grassroots of Irish boxing.

“This review is currently at consultation stage and this process will last for another 3-4 weeks. The full report will be complete before the year end.”

“It is important to note that this will be an entirely inclusive process, which all stakeholders will be given the opportunity to input,” said Treacy, who also suggested there was what he described as a ‘lot of noise’ in the organisation at the moment due to the impending elections.

Further details of the review were provided by Kirwan of the IABA, who said the agreed scope of the review was:

1. An external assessment of the IABA’s governance model

2. Assessment of implementation of the governance code, and a review of cultures and behaviours within the IABA structures including Board, Council and Provisional structures.

3. Assess the extent to which the governance model supports the needs of boxing and its members

4. Identify any additional considerations to facilitate the effective governance of the IABA going forward

“Given our extremely good standing with Sport Ireland, the statutory body for sport in this country, we are disappointed that this Governance review has not been allowed to be completed before being asked in here today,” he said.

Kirwan confirmed that the High-Performance director Bernard Dunne has sole control over the selection of all elite Irish teams.

“The HP director does it in conjunction with the head coach Zaur Anita in particular and John Conlan, who is the assistant head coach.

“I have absolute confidence in Bernard Dunne. I should lay my cards on the table. I chaired the interview selection panel that appointed him, “ he said.

Asked by Deputy Imelda Munster why Dunne was only given a two-year extension of his contract earlier this year given that the Paris Olympics were taking place in 2024, the board chairman explained the background to this issue.

“A number of members of the board wanted to give him a six-month contract, which in effect would have been an absolute vote of no confidence in him prior to the Olympic Games and would have had a devastating effect on the morale of that unit.

“I insisted that he be given a longer term. I wanted him to be given a term to the Paris Olympic Games in 2024. That was what I had pursued, that is what Bernard Dunne himself wanted.

“I know Sport Ireland were incredibly supportive of me in that stance. Ultimately like many things, a compromise had to be reached,” he said.

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