Friday 31 March 2017

Athletics: Counties demand Coghlan case gets airing at Congress

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

SEVERAL counties are poised to ensure that the controversy that dragged Athletics Ireland through the High Court last month is fully aired at its upcoming Congress.

Athletics Ireland (AAI) and the Irish Sports Council (ISC) ended up making a financial settlement with former AAI CEO Mary Coghlan after she took them to court, and both the Meath and Leitrim boards will be leading the charge to avoid such a costly situation occurring again.

Meath are suggesting that, in the case of future disputes, AAI should use the services of the 'Just Sport Ireland' dispute resolution body, an independent arbitration body set up by the Federation of Irish Sports.

Leitrim have submitted a more pointed motion, suggesting that AAI's board immediately set up its own formal grievance process to deal with disputes "efficiently, effectively and involving minimum cost to the Association."

Both motions ensure that the Coghlan affair and how it was handled by the board, will be thoroughly dissected at AAI's biennial Congress which takes place in Sligo on April 24/25.

Coghlan's legal team alleged that the ISC was working outside its remit and had put undue pressure on AAI. Leitrim have called for the new Minister for Sport, Mary Hanafin, "to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that clear and agreed protocols are in place regarding the relationship and interaction between the Irish Sports Council and National Governing Bodies of Sport."

And Meath have also submitted a motion relating to the ISC.

When AAI picked Paul Doyle to fill the vacancy of 'Director of Athletics' after the Beijing Olympics, the ISC, who, technically, were funding the job, refused to accept that choice, despite having two representatives on the interview panel.

The Meath County Board are now suggesting that, in future, the ISC should have just one nominee on AAI's interview panels.

Meath's Michael Heery, who was AAI President from 2002-'08, is also returning to contest the presidency with current incumbent Liam Hennessy.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of live action this weekend, not least World silver medallist Olive Loughnane's first competitive outing of the year in the IAAF Walking GP in Rio Maior, Portugal.

The Woodie's DIY National Road Relay Championships will take place in Raheny on Sunday, where the hosts will be looking to retain their senior men's title.

And, in the absence of a team from DSD's defending women's champions, Raheny will also be chasing the women's title.

The cream of Ireland's underage stars will compete at the second weekend of the national Juvenile Championships in Nenagh.

And AAI has announced that they are sending a senior high- performance squad to Monte Gordo, Portugal on April 25 for two weeks of warm-weather training.

Irish Independent

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