Basketball Ireland to fund Cork programme but row rumbles on

Chief executive Bernard O’Byrne has revealed that Basketball Ireland (BI) will stump up the €4,000 shortfall to continue a development officer programme in Cork, mired in controversy, through the rest of this year.

Basketball Ireland to fund Cork programme but row rumbles on

The post, held by UCC Demons and Irish international, Ciarán O’Sullivan, is at the centre of a festering local row, with the executive of the Cork Ladies Basketball Board (CLBB) withdrawing their part-funding for the programme on the basis that guarantees on accountability have not been met.

The decision has thrown the spotlight on CLBB chairman George Meade, who is faced with mounting criticism from ladies clubs in Cork who have voiced their strong support for the work O’Sullivan is doing.

Mr Meade, from the Ballincollig club, issued a private timeline document to all clubs, citing instances of a lack of accountability with the programme, but several clubs have called for a board EGM, complaining the decision to withdraw funding from the programme was taken without consultation with clubs.

In correspondence with the Cork clubs, BI chief executive Bernard O’Byrne said he was “both disappointed and staggered” by the decision of the CLBB and firmly rejected claims by Mr Meade that his conditions of accountability “were not feasible”.

“The statement by the chair….is a fabrication and completely untrue,” O’Byrne charged in correspondence two weeks ago.

The Development Officer programme is run through the Cork Sports Partnership (CSP), for whom Ciaran O’Sullivan is the Basketball Development officer. The cost of the programme has heretofore been shared between the men’s board, the ladies board, the CSP and Basketball Ireland.

The Basketball Ireland chief told Examiner Sport: “There is no basketball reasons why this should be happening. This development programme in Cork is regarded as a model for the rest of the country, and this all seems to be flared up out of the blue.

“The programme will continue (for ladies clubs) in Cork. Basketball Ireland will fund the missing €4,000 for the remainder of this year.”

Asked was he prepared to attend an EGM if called by the clubs, Mr O’Byrne said: “Basketball Ireland is staying out of this now. This needs to be sorted locally between the parties involved, who are all very well known to each other. The clubs are seeking an EGM and we would hope that an agreement for the full involvement of all the constituent bodies is reached by consultation for 2018.”

George Meade and Ciaran O’Sullivan are both involved in different capacities with the Ballincollig club, as is O’Sullivan’s father, Francis, a well-known National League coach.

In June, correspondence to the CLBB, Ballincollig Basketball Club said it was “surprised by this dramatic move (to withdraw funding for the programme).

“Our dealings with the Development Officer have been entirely positive. His (Ciarán O’Sullivan’s) influence in the schools, club, and community has contributed greatly to the growth of the game in Ballincollig and other clubs. Secondly, despite having representatives at the CLBB AGM, we were not involved in any consultation about such a dramatic move.”

In response to similar expressions of surprise from other clubs, the CLBB chair issued a detailed seven-page timeline of events, which has been broadly welcomed by ladies clubs, though one added “it lacked input from the other stakeholders (ie the clubs), making it difficult to draw any conclusions other than the dissatisfaction of the executive board.”

Another high-profile club insisted the issue “is not going to go away”, making an EGM imperative.

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