Boxing is now officially on a collision course with Minister for Sport Jack Chambers after delegates overwhelming rejected the key elements of a reform package at an Extraordinary General Meeting in Roscommon this afternoon.
he Minister had indicated that funding to the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) would be immediately cut by 15 percent unless club delegates backed a proposal to expand the Board of Directors and change the way it is appointed.
Ironically, the Minister’s pre-emptive strike backfired spectacularly as delegated repeatedly railed against his intervention. The chances of the motion meeting the 75 percent threshold needed were slim to begin with. But his threat killed off any remote chance of it being adopted.
In the event it only received the backing of 25 delegates, with 80 voting against.
Furthermore, a significant power shift within the organisation was confirmed, which in the short term at least, means that the chances of the recommendations in the review being agreed are remote.
Waterford’s Gerry O’Mahony defeated outgoing President Dominic O’Rourke – who missed the meeting due to illness. Voting took place last November, but the announcement of the results in the Central Council election was delayed because five of the candidates had been banned by the IABA, a decision which was overturned on appeal.
O’Mahony defeated O’Rourke by 143 votes to 94 and the other outgoing officers on the Council who were challenged were all defeated.
In the election for Vice-President Tom Ward defeated Paddy Osborne 116-114; Antoinette McClean became the first female National Secretary defeating the outgoing secretary Paddy Gallagher by one vote (116-115) while Registrar Stephen Connolly was defeated by Philip Rooney (110-98).
The Central Council of the IABA which runs the organisation on a day-to-day basis now has a new Executive Committee including Damien McKenna, Philip Keogh, Linda Morgan and Jim Murrin.
Essentially the ball is now back in the court of the Minister. Concerns was expressed at the meeting by Derry delegate Eugene Duffy that failure to accept the motion to reform the Board could led the funding cuts and jeopardise the prospects of the Irish Cadet team travelling to the European Championships in Turkey at the end of the month.
It was clear from the tone of the debate that club delegates were in no mood to adopt the proposal. But in a surprise move which could have long term ramifications for the unity of the sport a technical motion which would have allowed the AGM of the IABA, which is a limited company, to be held in the six counties did not receive the required 75 percent backing – with 68 voting for and 35 against.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors Ciaran Kirwan said afterwards that he respected the decision of the delegates. He warned that it was going to lead to huge problems for the organisation going forward.
He said he was absolutely stunned that the motion to allow company EGM’s and AGM not to held in the six counties was not passed given the huge contribution Ulster boxers had played in boxing in Ireland. “This is a setback and clubs who voted against the motion need to look at themselves,” he said.
He said the Board of Directors would meeting next week to discuss how the organisation would proceed in the wake of the decision not to back the reform package.