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IABA’s deep divisions laid bare by nominations for key roles in Central Council


Outgoing Irish Athletic Boxing Association president Dominic O’Rourke

Outgoing Irish Athletic Boxing Association president Dominic O’Rourke

Outgoing Irish Athletic Boxing Association president Dominic O’Rourke

The deep divisions in the Irish Athletic Boxing Association have been laid bare by the release of nominated candidates to contest key positions on the organisation’s Central Council.

Leinster, the home province of outgoing IABA president Dominic O’Rourke, have failed to nominate him for another two-year term.

Instead he has been nominated by Ulster while his rival for the position, Munster Council president Gerry O’Mahony is nominated by his home province, Leinster and Connacht.

Only three Leinster-based boxing clubs, St Michael’s Athy, Olympic Mullingar and Garda have formally nominated the outgoing president who is a member of St Michael’s. In contrast 16 of the 29 clubs who have nominated O’Mahony are Leinster-based.

Twenty-nine clubs and five county boards (Galway, Leitrim, Longford/Westmeath, Offaly and Wicklow) have nominated O’Mahony while 12 clubs as well as the Antrim, Cork and Tyrone/Fermanagh County Board have nominated the outgoing president.

The results of the election – which is being conducted by postal ballot among club representatives – will be announced at what promises to be a likely AGM in Belfast on November 28. The outcome will have a significant bearing on the future direction of the troubled association.

Leinster together with the Connacht Council and the Dublin County Board withdrew their support from the Central Council earlier this year in a row over a delay in proceeding with an election of new directors of the Board of the IABA.

The Central Council retaliated by objecting to the three units being affiliated to the national body and seeking to have officers involved expelled from the Association.

The matter was referred by the Board of Directors to a three-member membership panel to consider the matter and make a final decision.

It is not known whether this committee, which comprises of two barristers and a member of another sport’s governing body will make their decision prior to the AGM.

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Meanwhile, the warring factions have been engaged in a tit-for-tit campaign since the row erupted.

The latest saga surrounds underage boxing championships in Leinster and Connacht.

The Leinster Council announced on Friday that they had been forced to cancel the championships because they were unable to get a direct response from the IABA as to whether they had been affiliated or whether they were insured or permitted to host championship if they were not affiliated.

Forty-eight hours later clubs in Leinster and Connacht were sent an email signed by the officer board of the IABA offering to hosts the cancelled underage championships in St Michael’s BC, Athy and St Anne’s BC, Westport respectively.

The email stated: “To ensure boxers in Leinster and Connacht are not adversely affected by decisions taken by their respective provincial councils, the IABA Officer Board will run championships for Boy/Girl 1 & 2 in these provinces.”

The officer board of the Leinster Council responded in an email sent later that day to their affiliated club, saying: “Although we have not been given an adequate explanation for the failure to ratify the Leinster affiliation, the delay appears to be based upon a complain of the Central Council, the very body that are now trying to organise our championships.

“The competition which the Central Board are now seeking to arrange would appear to be a cosmetic exercise to conceal the damage caused by their complaint. It would also appear to an attempt to undermine the membership of both the elected Leinster and Connacht provincial councils.”

In a further email forwarded to clubs earlier today, the Central Council announced that the deadline for entries for the championships had been extended until this Thursday, November 11. The Leinster event is due to take place in St Michael’s Athy on Saturday and Sunday next.

Due to a relaxation in Covid-19 regulations announced by Sport Ireland, juvenile boxers no longer have to produce a Covid-19 vaccination certificate or undergo antigen tests in order to participate in competition.

The current board also issued what is effectively an election manifesto. The five outgoing officers (President, Vice-President, registrar, treasurer and secretary) are all seeking re-election.

Significantly they claim credit for the fact that Ireland sent teams to both the European U-22’s and the World championships even though these issues were understood to be primarily the responsibility of the IABA’s High Performance Unit.

“Despite what many people believe, we as an Officer Board have always been proactive in terms of boxing and put the interest of boxers first,” the statement read.

“When it was decided that no team would be sent to the European U-22’s we didn’t sit idly by. Instead we pushed to get a team of boxers sent and in the end a team went brought home a gold, silver and bronze medal.

“Likewise, for the world championships, when boxers were told that they wouldn’t be going, we again pushed for a team to be sent and a team did go.”

With the exception of outgoing treasurer Larry Morrison, the other four officers all face re-election contests as follows Vice-President Paddy Osborne versus Tom Ward; secretary Paddy Gallagher versus Antoinette McClean; registrar Stephen Connolly versus Philip Rooney while the big contest for President sees Dominic O’Rourke facing Gerry O’Mahony.

Even the venue for the AGM has become a source of controversy. The IABA confirmed via a website notice that the meeting will go ahead in the Balmoral Hotel, Belfast on November 28.

It added that it had noted an objection by an affiliated club – believe to be Dublin – that the meeting must be held within the 26-counties as the IABA is now subjected to Irish company law.

“We will update the membership as necessary,” according to the statement.

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