ICA injunction case opens over election procedures

(stock photo)

Tim Healy

A longtime member of the Irish Country Women's Association (ICA) has brought proceedings aimed at compelling the organisation to count votes casts in its election for positions on its national executive, the High Court has heard. 

Patricia Madden, who joined the ICA 39 years ago, says the organisation is in breach of its constitution when it failed to count ballots cast by its membership in advance of its AGM last May. 

The ICA should also have but failed to declare winners at the AGM for positions on its national executive board including National President, National Secretary and National Treasure for a term of office that runs from 2018 to 2021. 

Ms Madden's application for various injunctions, which is opposed by the ICA, opened before Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh at the High Court on Wednesday.  

Due to problems with the election, the court was told the ICA proposes to hold a fresh election later this year. 

The injunction application commenced after a set of proposals tendered in advance of the hearing by the ICA failed to resolve the issue. 

Ms Madden seeks to have various injunctions, including one restraining the  ICA from filling any vacancies on its board put in place until the action has been decided by the High Court.

She said she has brought the action so the votes can be counted, the winners declared so the ICA can "get on with being the wonderful organisation that it is."

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She said there was a lot of concern among members about the election.  

On Wednesday, the Judge also granted permission for 30 other ICA members, including a number of election candidates, who are supporting Ms Madden's application, to be joined as plaintiffs to the proceedings. 

Ms Madden, a  qualified barrister, of Saint Mobhi Road in Glasnevin, Dublin 9 has also brought separate, but related, proceedings where she seeks an injunction restraining the ICA from destroying or interfering in any way with ballot papers returned for the organisation's 2018 national elections.

The ICA has also given an undertaking not to destroy the ballots.  

The Judge said it was accepted that both sides in this dispute had "the best interests" of the ICA at heart. 

She also said that what seemed at issue here was "an administrative error".  

Differences have arisen on how this should be dealt with, the Judge added. 

The case will be mentioned before the Court on Friday with a view to fixing a date to hear the remainder of the application. 

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