Turmoil in Countrywomen's Association amid proposals to postpone elections
Allegations of misappropriation of expenses and voting irregularities and attempts to postpone its elections to determine a new President and national officers have rocked the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA).
Two rounds of ballot papers, four election rallies and a heated Extraordinary General Meeting in Dublin have left the Association facing claims some potential election candidates are being ostracised amid questions over the running of the Association.
Initial concerns were raised at an Executive Board level in December 2017, when questions were raised over the non-disclosure of information to the Board by one senior member of the Association and there were calls for National President Marie O’Toole to step aside amid the allegations.
Then, issues around voting irregularities arose after four voting papers were sent out to some individuals who were also running for office – a practice discontinued under the Association’s new constitution.
One of the candidates running for National President, Josephine Helly, wrote to ICA HQ stating that some candidates had an unfair disadvantage as they were not privy to election issues that had been raised.
Helly, in her letter, went on to call for an EGM – a request that seems to have been initially rejected by HQ as it issued a letter to the Association’s members days later (March 22) stating that a problem had arisen around the voting/ballot papers.
HQ wrote to members stating that “in line with legal advice” it was enclosing new voting papers and that such a measure was necessary to make the election process “transparent and fair to all candidates” and to the members.
However, days later it issued another letter to members, announcing that it would hold an Extraordinary General Meeting on Saturday, April 14 in the Gresham Hotel, “to advise … of issues related to the fact that we had to reissue new voting papers”.