Tuesday 23 January 2018

New IABA row as ex-minister queries Carruth appointment

Bernard Allen - Chairperson of the NGB Grants Committee, Irish Sports Council, (Board member of Sport Ireland)
Bernard Allen - Chairperson of the NGB Grants Committee, Irish Sports Council, (Board member of Sport Ireland)

Sean McGoldrick

The beleaguered Irish Amateur Boxing Association has been hit by a fresh controversy in the wake of the debacle over the departure of Billy Walsh to the USA.

Former Minister of Sport Bernard Allen - now on the Board of Sports Ireland - revealed at yesterday's Oireachtas hearing into the Walsh affair that he was "unhappy with the procedures" surrounding the appointment two years ago of Fergal Carruth as the IABA's chief executive.

Allen was the Irish Sports Council's nominee sitting on the final interview panel. He said that he had been very unhappy that what he described as an "experienced administrator", whom he felt was suitable for the position, was not among the candidates selected for final interview.

Eventually this individual was interviewed in a second round of final interviews. Allen said he accepted the "majority decision" made by the interview panel to give the job to Carruth.

Allen said he took exception to the 'rough words' spoken to Gary Keegan, the founder and first director of the IABA's High Performance Unit during the process. In his capacity as director of the Irish Institute of Sport, Keegan was involved in the process of appointing the new chief executive. Allen didn't specify who made these comments to Keegan.


The IABA members present at yesterday's hearing did not address the issues raised by Allen.

Carruth only made brief contributions. Under persistent questions from independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice he denied that he had ever cancelled or postponed meetings with Walsh in order to avoid discussions over the coach's future.

Asked by Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley about the relationship between Walsh and Carruth, Joe Christie, chairman of the IABA's board of directors, said he would characterise it as being 'very healthy', although it had been suggested to him by Kieran Mulvey, the chairman of Sport Ireland, that it was dysfunctional.

Sport Ireland chief John Treacy told Oireachtas members that at one meeting with the IABA they were told "20 other coaches that could do the job that Billy Walsh was doing" adding that their partnership with the IABA had "definitely been strained" as a result of the Walsh affair.

Christie repeatedly called for an independent review to be carried out on all aspects of the negotiation between the IABA, Sports Ireland and Billy Walsh.

Meanwhile, it's understood that Sports Minister Michael Ring has asked representatives of both the IABA and Sport Ireland into his office next Wednesday for a behind-closed-doors meeting in an effort to broker a peace between the warring sides.

Irish Independent

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