Thursday 18 January 2018

Athletics: Hennessy hits out at hate campaign


OUTGOING Athletics Ireland president Liam Hennessy told delegates at a contentious congress in Sligo yesterday that he had been subjected to a hate campaign.

There was a fractious atmosphere throughout the day's business as AI's top brass came face to face with its clubs for the first time since settling a court case with former CEO Mary Coghlan.

Hennessy, who was re-elected for another term of office, told delegates there had been a campaign against him but, in a sometimes emotional address, he told delegates that he refused to be affected by this.

"I received emails and texts of a threatening nature but I know I acted with integrity and I decided not to walk away," he said. "I refuse to be intimidated by bullyboy tactics. I have done my utmost to look forward, to focus and promote athletics in Ireland."

Outgoing chairman of high performance Patsy McGonagle, said of his time in the position: "It was a miserable period, depressing, sad and it had a serious impact on me and my family."

McGonagle also admitted he had received a settlement from AI but returned the money. "I didn't want the money, I just wanted to clear my name after 40 years of work."

Paddy Fey, chair of coaching, implored delegates to take ownership of Athletics Ireland to prevent a repeat of the events. Delegates also heard the extent of AI's losses as a result of the court case, which cost the association €383,000, €61,000 more than the amount spent on coaching and competition. After breaking even for three consecutive years AI lost €390,000 for 2009.

Outoging chairman of the finance and risk committee, Gerry Giblin, said the losses made for a difficult budgetary position for AI for 2010 and 2011.

Elsewhere, Ciaran O'Cathain was elected as the new chairman of Finance and Risk, James Kidd as the new chairman of Coaching, Ray Flynn as chairman of High Performance and John McGrath as chairman of the association's Juvenile Committee.

Sunday Independent

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