Boxing: Funding withdrawal adds fuel to fire
Published 17/04/2010 | 05:00
The Irish Sports Council has informed the Irish Amateur Boxing Association that it will not fund the salaries of its new CEO and High Performance Director.
As an angry fallout continued from yesterday's Irish Independent story that IABA President Dominic O'Rourke had controversially beaten Billy Walsh to the post of HP Director, it emerged that the Sports Council will not be bankrolling the new appointments.
The Council wrote to the IABA last week informing them of the decision because of "unhappiness with the procedures used".
I understand that the letter went out just days before Don Stewart was confirmed as the association's new CEO and before the interview process even commenced for the position of High Performance Director.
This now creates a quite extraordinary situation in which the Council will continue to fund boxing's High Performance programme to the tune of almost €1.2m this year but has, effectively, distanced itself from two of the key positions involved in the running of that programme.
There was still no official confirmation yesterday of O'Rourke's appointment as the Association faced a blizzard of complaints over the decision to overlook head coach, Walsh, for the position.
Art O'Brien, president of the Dublin County Board, admitted: "There is a genuine discomfort among boxing people at what's happening. People might say that it's only manifest in Dublin, but it's being felt right around the country.
"I would say there is genuine disgust, yet nobody is particularly surprised."
Boxing's High Performance programme has benefited to the tune of more than €7m in council grants since its inception under Gary Keegan in 2002 and has significantly out-performed all other funded sports since Ken Egan, Paddy Barnes and the late Darren Sutherland returned from the Beijing Olympics with three medals.
Walsh has essentially run the programme since Keegan moved to the Institute of Sport immediately after Beijing. He remained unavailable for comment last night.