ICA member brings case to High Court over what judge labels an 'administrative error' in elections

By Ann O'Loughlin

A long-time member of the Irish Country Women's Association has brought proceedings aimed at compelling the organisation to count votes casts in its election for positions on its national executive, the High Court has heard.

Patricia Madden, who joined the ICA 39 years ago, says the organisation is in breach of its constitution when it failed to count ballots cast by its membership in advance of its AGM last May.

The ICA should also have, but failed, to declare winners at the AGM for positions on its national executive board including National President, National Secretary and National Treasure for a term of office that runs from 2018 to 2021.

Ms Madden's application for various injunctions, which is opposed by the ICA which accepts there are issues in relation to the election which need to be addressed, opened before Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh at the High Court this afternoon.

Due to problems with the election the court was told the ICA proposes to hold a fresh election later this year.

File photo.

The injunction application commenced after a set of proposals tendered in advance of the hearing by the ICA failed to resolve the issue.

Ms Madden seeks to have various injunctions, including one restraining the ICA from filling any vacancies on its board put in place until the action has been decided by the High Court.

She said she has brought the action so the votes can be counted, the winners declared so the ICA can "get on with being the wonderful organisation that it is".

She said there was a lot of concern among members about the election.

Today, the Judge granted permission for 30 other ICA members, including a number of election candidates, who are supporting Ms Madden's application to be joined as plaintiffs to the proceedings.

Ms Madden, a barrister of Saint Mobhi Road in Glasnevin, Dublin 9, has also brought separate, but related, proceedings where she seeks an injunction restraining the ICA from destroying or interfering in any way with ballot papers returned for the organisation's 2018 national elections.

The ICA has also given an undertaking not to destroy the ballots.

When adjourning the matter the Judge said it was accepted that both sides in this dispute had "the best interests" of the ICA at heart.

The Judge also said that what seemed at issue here was "an administrative error".

Differences have arisen on how this should be dealt with, the Judge added. The case will be mentioned before the Court on Friday with a view to fixing a date to hear the remainder of the application.

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