Fergal Carruth: Irish Athletic Boxing Association is the Joe show

Irish Athletic Boxing Association chief executive Fergal Carruth has described this week’s crunch talks at the National Stadium as “positive,” as the organisation forced a new rulebook over the line in order to meet a June 30 deadline set by Sport Ireland.

As might have been expected given the fissures within the IABA, however, Wednesday night’s meeting hardly passed without incident. It’s understood that the Munster Council’s Gerry O’Mahony did not contribute to the meeting; he was asked to leave early having refused to recognise Joe Christle as chairman.

O’Mahony was the only director present to reject Christle’s chairmanship, with president Pat Ryan - who had previously supported claimant David O’Brien in the dispute - switching allegiance to the incumbent Christle.

“There is only one chair of our organisation,” chief executive Carruth told the Irish Examiner. “We’ve been very, very clear on this. He’s registered in the Companies Registration Office, he’s the properly constituted chairman of our organisation, and that is Joe Christle. He’s fully accepted by the Board members who were in attendance at the meeting on Wednesday night... who took part in the meeting.

“There were eight directors who took part in the meeting, and each of them accept Joe Christle as chairman of the organisation.”

Christle’s challenger O’Brien was present at the meeting but isn’t a director, and now wants Central Council members – some of whom will be aggrieved by the support for Christle, particularly from president Ryan – to call an EGM which he hopes would result in new elections.

Nonetheless, and somewhat remarkably, there were more pressing matters at hand.

“There was a lot of discussion at the meeting,” Carruth said. “That, I would have fully expected beforehand. But it was a positive meeting of the Board of Directors, and it transpired at the end that the rulebook was adopted. We now do have a new rulebook in place, and we will be bringing that rulebook to our members.

“Ideally, the organisation would go into consultation with its members prior to any rule changes in order to give their opinion as to why those changes are needed, and to give guidance as to how they will help the organisation. It also gives the members an opportunity to come back and give their opinion on the proposed changes.”

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go through that process with our members, and we had to bring a rulebook into effect much sooner than was anticipated in order to protect the financial stability of the IABA.”

Carruth is adamant that the IABA has received “a groundswell of support from grassroots members” regarding these changes, but is under no illusions that the IABA faces a massive task in bringing all-comers on board given the sudden nature of the rulebook’s implementation.

“To be frank, I’m not going to say that there won’t be opposition to some of the changes that were made,” he said. There will always be differing opinions, and we have to accept that.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to speak with the members, but we’ll be doing that in reverse if you like, and advising them as to what changes will happen.”

It was initially feared that the new rulebook would not be forthcoming, with David O’Brien suggesting only ordinary members could vote one in during an EGM. Carruth, however, contested that the organisation’s Board of Directors “are entitled to change the bylaws of the company, and the rulebook, in effect, is a bylaw of the company.”

“All of the [Rio] recommendations – all of them, bar none – are part of our strategic plan, and we’ve gone further and implemented most of the recommendations already,” he said.

Carruth also confirmed that High Performance Director Bernard Dunne would be fulfilling the role of Team Manager at the European Championships, which begin today in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Central Council had originally assigned Gerry O’Mahony to the position under the auspices of the previous rulebook, operational since 2006.

“When you register with AIBA [International Boxing Association],” Carruth explained, “you must confirm who is the team leader.”

“In reality, Bernard has to be close to the team, and in order for him to be there, we couldn’t have two people registered as the team leader.”

As to why Central Council orginally selected O’Mahony over Dunne at all, Carruth said: “I believe their reasoning was to allow [Dunne] to be able to assist in other matters, and to network, as it is his first major international.”


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