Sunday 18 March 2018

Ring steps in to 'cool' war of words over Walsh's resignation

Billy Walsh’s resignation has sparked a war of words
Billy Walsh’s resignation has sparked a war of words

John Brennan

Sports Minister Michael Ring has intervened to stop the war of words between Sports Ireland and the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA).

He called for "cool heads" following the resignation of Billy Walsh from the IABA earlier during the week

The minister's comments come after the Billy Walsh saga, which has rumbled on, with the IABA finally breaking its silence after a week of controversy.

The association responded to Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy's accusation that the fault for Mr Walsh's departure "clearly is the responsibility of the IABA".

The IABA rebutted, saying that "Sport Ireland's officials [were] seeking to go beyond their authority and its statutory mandate" and added that "the agency has a track record and form in this regard and has paid dearly for it in the past".

The resignation of Mr Walsh as head coach of the Irish High Performance Unit just days after returning from the World Championships in Qatar with a glut of medals rocked Irish boxing to its core earlier this week, with the likes of Paddy Barnes, Michael Carruth and now the minister wading into the debate.

Mr Walsh has left the Irish set-up to undertake a role with USA boxing.

The minister has called for calm, saying "all involved here are sorry to see Billy leave for the US and while this situation has caused passions to run high, now is the time to redirect that passion in the interest of the future of the sport.

"We must focus our efforts on the week and months ahead and on how we can best support our athletes as they prepare for the Olympic Games in Rio next year.

"For the sake of Irish boxing, at all levels, I believe that everyone should now focus on what's ahead and what is best for our athletes. Adding fuel to the fire by continuing the discussion over the airwaves is not helpful at this point."

The IABA chairman Joe Christle appeared on RTÉ Radio, saying that they had done everything "within reason" to meet the demands of the former coach.

He also added that the IABA had been under the impression Walsh was going to sign a new contract prior to his resignation on Monday.

Mr Christle outlined the deal which had been put on the table for Walsh.

The package is said to have included arrangements for the selection of all boxing teams to represent Ireland - subject to ratification by the Central Council, as well as bonus structures.

The IABA released a statement which explained that Mr Walsh himself had said he had been offered "crazy money" from USA boxing. It described Mr Walsh's resignation as "surprising and disappointing", and added that it "had no choice but to accept that resignation, with regret".

Irish Independent

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