Thursday 26 April 2018

Minister for Sport Pascal Donohoe calls on IABA to explain 'disastrous situation' of Billy Walsh exit

Ireland boxing coach Billy Walsh
Ireland boxing coach Billy Walsh

Mark O’Regan

The departure of Billy Walsh from his role as Irish boxing’s head coach is a “disastrous situation” which should have been avoided, Minister for Sport Paschal Donohoe has said.

Walsh resigned as head coach of the High Performance unit this week, and is set to take up a role with USA Boxing.

The 52-year-old is the most successful head coach in the history of Ireland’s participation in the Olympic Games.

Minister Donohoe said it is unacceptable that the country has lost one of its greatest coaches in such manner.

“At various different stages of engagement with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, we did believe that an agreement had been reached, and the matter was going to be resolved.

“We’ve now ended up with what is a disastrous situation, where in the run-up to Rio, one of the most successful coaches we have in any discipline or sport in Ireland, is now not going to be available to support our athletes.

“I want to make a call on the IABA that they come out and they explain why this matter happened.”

He said the Oireachtas Committee for Sport may ask the IABA to attend a public hearing on the matter.

“I think it’s a very good idea. I hope such a proposal is extended, and I hope the IABA come in and explain to the Irish taxpayer how this matter has developed.”

Addressing the impending strike action at Irish Rail, he said there will be “no winners” if an eleventh-hour resolution is not reached.

“I just want to emphasise how serious this situation now is.

“Any agreement, any changes that might be made, can only be made out of any savings that accrue from productivity within that company.

“It must be productivity that everybody in Irish Rail is able to track, monitor and ensure that it’s verifiable.

“If these strikes goes ahead the only losers on Friday morning are going to be commuters all over our country.

“Also, from a long term perspective, it’s going to be the finances of Irish Rail.

“It is the current employees of Irish Rail who will be unfortunately dealing with the consequences of that.

“I’m eager and very determined that the discussions that are now underway in the Workplace and Relations Commission do yield a result in relation to that matter, and that all work is put in place to ensure that the strikes are called off.”

Should the strike action go ahead, it will make a perilous financial situation at the company even worse, he added.

“We will have losers all over our country, and commuters who will not be able to go about their daily business.

“It will cause terrible difficulty and upheaval during one of the busiest weekends for Irish Rail during the year.”

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