Monday 19 August 2019

Eight members of new FAI board confirmed at AGM as Donal Conway is re-elected president

FAI president Donal Conway. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
FAI president Donal Conway. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Donal Conway has been elected as the president of the FAI for another year, with Paul Cooke winning the vote for the vice president position.

Unopposed candidate Conway received 134 votes out of a possible 140 at today's AGM in Trim, with five voting against and one abstention.

Conway's decision to stand proved divisive in official circles, with Minister for Sport Shane Ross opposed to the idea and Sport Ireland also voicing their concerns.

Addressing the meeting after the vote, Conway said that he had opted to run again after the Governance Review Group report recommended that up to two current board members stay on as part of an interim board for a period of 12 months.

"I have absolutely no intention of being involved post that interim board," said Conway, asserting that he would be staying on for a maximum of 12 months.

"If in the meantime there were circumstances that it would be the right thing for the association that I would step away, I would not hesitate to do that."

Vice President Noel Fitzroy dropped out of the race this morning after coming under some pressure in FAI circles to do so.

Fitzroy indicated that the decision of former board member John Earley to put himself forward for a place on the new board had forced his hand.

Earley resigned from the board in June due to his opposition to aspects of the reform proposals - but he has been put forward again by members in his constituency.

Fitzroy said: "It is with deep regret that I find myself in a situation where I am faced with no alternative but to withdrawn my nomination in order to uphold our responsibilities to the Governance Review proposals and avoid further crisis.

"At this point of time, two members of the old board have been selected or elected so I find myself in an impossible situation.

"While this decision is devastating to me personally, I make it in the best interests of the Association."

Conway later expressed sympathy for Fitzroy's position, stating that 'it was a difficult situation for Noel and I was conscious of that.'

That left Gerry McAnaney and Paul Cooke to contest that position.

Both made a campaign pitch to the room before the vote.

McAnaney said he was an 'agent for change', adding that his Defence Forces background demonstrated his commitment to accountability

Former newspaper executive Cooke cited his professional experience as a chartered accountant and asserted that he was a 'straight talker' who could provide the board with a strong financial voice.

After a ballot, Cooke triumphed by 80 votes to 57.

Conway later confirmed the identities of the new board members have been appointed from the various football constituencies established under the new proposals.

Martin Heraghty (Sligo Rovers) and Dick Shakespeare (UCD) take the League of Ireland seats, with John Finnegan and Dave Moran voted in from amateur football, Earley returning under the schoolboys/schoolgirls heading and Joe O'Brien from the Colleges FAI representing a new parish of smaller affiliates.

Within two years, the FAI will need to have a 33pc representation of females on the board.

As it stands, the eight members coming through football channels are all male.

Four independent candidates will be nominated by September.

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