Judge directs proposals to resolve ICA election dispute

Court Reporter

A set of proposals aimed at resolving proceedings brought against the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA) are to be furnished early next week, the High Court heard. 

On Friday, Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh directed lawyers acting for the ICA to serve a set of proposals aimed at dealing with concerns raised in actions brought by Patrica Madden in relation to the organisation she has been a member of for some 39 years.  

The concerns arise out recent elections for several positions including president on the ICA's national executive.  

Earlier this week, Ms Madden secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining the ICA from filling any vacancies on its board,  including national president, treasurer, secretary and regional presidents. 

Ms Madden, who is representing herself, claims those positions were not filled, following a postal vote, at the ICA AGM in May. 

Ms Madden, who claims the ICA has acted in breach of its constitution in respect of the ballot, says she has taken the actions not for personal gain but to protect the organisation.  

When the matter returned before the court on Friday, Frank Beatty SC, for the ICA, said his side had made two temporary appointments to the National Executive before the ICA had knowledge of the injunctions being granted.

Counsel said that the appointments were required so that the ICA could keep running. Without the appointments the ICA would have "to shut up shop," counsel said.

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Mr Beatty said Ms Madden had raised issues with the election to the ICA's National Executive, where ballot papers had been sent to the wrong people.  

His side was prepared to make a number of proposals to Ms Madden by Wednesday of next week, and if she did not accept them it was seeking to have the case heard later this month. 

While temporary appointments had been made to the position of national secretary and national treasurer, no further undertakings would take place until the application which, if it goes ahead the ICA will be opposing, has been heard.  

The Judge said the ICA should furnish its proposals by Tuesday and if they are not acceptable to Ms Madden, the case should be listed for hearing next Wednesday.

Ms Madden, a 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 for positions of president, secretary, treasurer and regional presidents.

Those proceedings stand adjourned after the ICA gave an undertaking not to destroy the ballots. 

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