Saturday 10 December 2016

Minister tells IABA and Sport Ireland 'line needs to be drawn' under recent events

Published 04/11/2015 | 19:01

Michael Ring
Michael Ring

A government minister has told officials at the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) and Sport Ireland that a "line needs to be drawn" under recent events.

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A statement from Michael Ring, Minister of State for Sport, stated that he met with officials from both organisations earlier today at his request.

Billy Walsh watches the Women’s Olympic Boxing team trials at Memphis Cook Convention Centre
Billy Walsh watches the Women’s Olympic Boxing team trials at Memphis Cook Convention Centre
Former Ireland head coach Billy Walsh

Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, also attended.

Representatives from both organisations have been in a public dispute since Billy Walsh, the highly rated boxing coach, quit Ireland and went to the US. Walsh has said he left his position because he did not feel he was wanted by the IABA after contract negotiations collapsed.

Referring to tonight's meeting, Mr Ring said he gave both sides an opportunity to air their views on recent events.

The statement said that Mr Ring "proposed to both organisations, in the interest of Irish boxing and looking ahead to the Rio Olympics, that a line needed to be drawn".

Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) officials (left to right) Fergal Carruth, Pat Ryan and Joe Christle arrive at Leinster House in Dublin to appear before the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) officials (left to right) Fergal Carruth, Pat Ryan and Joe Christle arrive at Leinster House in Dublin to appear before the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
John Treacy

Both organisations are due to meet again in two weeks time "to discuss and agree the way forward for Irish boxing", the statement said.

Walsh was unveiled yesterday as the new head coach of women’s boxing in the United States, while officials in Ireland were being grilled over his shock departure.

The long-time head coach of the High Performance Unit at the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA), Walsh resigned two weeks ago and has taken up a new role in the US that will see him try to foil Katie Taylor’s tilt at a second Olympic gold medal.

The IABA and Sport Ireland stepped into the ring last week to face questions from the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications on the loss of Walsh.

The IABA are unhappy with Sport Ireland Chairman Kieran Mulvey and the body itself.
The IABA are unhappy with Sport Ireland Chairman Kieran Mulvey and the body itself.

The appearance before the committee came after a week of claims and counter-claims between the two bodies over who was at fault for failing to get him to sign a new deal and remain in Ireland.

IABA chairman Mr Christle said Walsh’s resignation had come as a “bombshell” to the association.

“Any suggestion that any director wanted Billy to leave is totally and utterly rejected,” he said.

“The suggestion that he is the victim of a campaign to oust him from his job is untrue.”

The IABA chiefs denied that they wanted pay rises themselves if their hugely successful coaching chief got the lucrative deal.

“The directors are volunteers and receive no remuneration or expenses and so there is no question that these assessments were based on self-interest.”

Sport Ireland said it signed off on covering the cost of retaining Walsh’s services after contract negotiations had broken down over the last eight months. It put the salary figure at closer to €125,000 a year for three years.

“It was clear from the outset the non-financial matters were of paramount importance (to Mr Walsh),” John Treacy, Sport Ireland chief executive said.

The committee was told that Sport Ireland had stressed the importance of retaining Walsh to the IABA last February.

Senator Eamonn Coghlan, former chair of the High Performance Committee of the Irish Sports Council (ISC), said he does not believe the IABA wanted Walsh to continue in his role. He said the IABA and Sports Ireland had “no problems in the ring”, adding that it was clear there were problems “outside the ring”.

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