Sunday 21 January 2018

Sport Ireland issue statement criticising IABA following resignation of Billy Walsh

Billy Walsh has resigned from the IABA
Billy Walsh has resigned from the IABA

Sport Ireland and Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, have issued a statement expressing their disappointment and shock following Billy Walsh's decision to resign.

Just days after master-minding Ireland’s best ever performance at the World Boxing championships in Doha, Walsh announced his resignation after eight months of negotiations with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) failed to come to a resolution.

At the end of the championships in Doha Walsh hinted that he was optimistic that there would be a successful outcome to his protracted contractual talks with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association. However, he dropped a bombshell today by announcing that he was quitting and will be taking up a role with USA Boxing.

And now Sport Ireland and Minister Michael Ring have weighed in and pointed the finger of blame firmly at the  Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA).

"Sport Ireland is extremely disappointed to learn that Billy Walsh has decided to step down from his role as Head Coach of the High Performance Unit in the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA). Working with the Minister for Sport, Michael Ring TD, Sport Ireland made every effort within its authority to resolve this issue," read a statement this evening.

"Billy Walsh has overseen an unprecedented period of success in Irish Boxing including, most recently, at the World Senior Championships. Sport Ireland is deeply appreciative of his contribution and wishes him well in his future. The USA's gain is Ireland's loss.

"As the legal employer it was a matter for the IABA to resolve and it insisted on its autonomy to negotiate with their Head Coach. Sport Ireland was unequivocal in its desire to keep Billy Walsh in Irish sport and communicated clearly to the IABA that every support would be provided in order to retain him at the High Performance Unit of the IABA.

"This position was strongly supported by the Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, who met with representatives of the IABA on three occasions to facilitate an agreement and by Sport Ireland who met the IABA on several occasions."

Michael Ring
Michael Ring

Minister Ring added: "I have worked hard in trying to have this matter resolved in a way that would have been acceptable to all involved. I am disappointed that this has not proved possible. I would like to wish Billy well in the future and to thank him for the time and dedication he has given to Irish boxing."

Sport Ireland emphasised that a proposal by the Irish Sports Council on August 22 was a "realistic and fair framework to ensure his retention" and are in the dark as to how further progress was not made.

"Sport Ireland believes that the proposal tabled on the 22nd August by the Sports Council, and supported by Billy Walsh, and the IABA representatives presented a realistic and fair framework to ensure his retention," continued this evening's statement.

"It is not clear why this proposal was never presented to the board of the IABA as agreed at the meeting on August 22nd and we have never received a satisfactory answer on this matter.

"With no progress made, it required the creation of another proposal to advance negotiations. This new initiative required Billy Walsh to become a contractor to the IABA and was the basis of recent discussion between the IABA and Billy Walsh. This was a matter between the parties.

"Sport Ireland was not party to those discussions although it was prepared to provide funding for the financial cost of any agreement arising, if agreeable, to both sides. Last week the IABA reported that it was close to a successful conclusion of the negotiations. Unfortunately that has proven not to be the case as it seems there is no agreement on the non-financial aspects of the contract."

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