IABA will investigate 'despicable, sinister and cowardly' Facebook posts ahead of Ulster election says president Pat Ryan

The possibility that a number of clubs may not be entitled to a vote in the upcoming Ulster Council elections has prompted an angry response on social media

THE president of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) has pledged to investigate “despicable, sinister and cowardly” posts made on social media ahead of the upcoming Ulster Council elections.

Election papers for the posts of president and secretary - currently held by Paul McMahon and Sadie Duffy – have been sent out, with the Ulster Council congress taking place in Omagh on Sunday, August 13.

Last week Kevin Duffy (St Joseph’s, Derry) and Charlie Toland (Ormeau Road) declared their intention to contest the positions.

However, it has since come to light that a number of clubs may not be entitled to a vote as affiliation forms were not submitted to their county board before the May 31 deadline, provoking an angry response on social media.

And in a letter addressed to all county boards and provincial councils, seen by The Irish News, IABA president Pat Ryan described some of the comments as “the very essence of bullying”.

The Portlaoise man also hit out at the County Antrim Board, claiming that “through ignorance or incompetence” only 18 of a potential 57 clubs had registered in time.

“A club is entitled to affiliate at a later date but must have had their affiliation form with the county board in order to have entitlement to vote at any convention during that year,” says Ryan.

“This is a well established rule, it is clear and it has been strictly applied by the majority of county board secretaries.

“One county board, whether through ignorance or incompetence, seems not to have grasped this simple regulation.

“The reason for this lapse rests solely with the officers of the county board concerned. Their incompetence has resulted in the majority of the clubs within their county board being denied votes at any convention this year.

“In addition to the 18 affiliations referred to, the county board in question submitted to the provincial council in the region of a further 20 affiliations which had been signed off by their clubs at various dates during June and July.

“The provincial secretary [Sadie Duffy], as was her duty under the rules, accepted later affiliations for the purpose of insurance but correctly noted that they could not vote in any current year elections.

“Clearly, to allow any club to a vote to which they were not entitled could result in any subsequent election being declared null and void and could, in fact, lead to legal action.”

Turning his attention to the social media activity over the weekend, particularly on Facebook, the IABA president claimed Sadie Duffy had been subjected to “a range of intimidation, harassment and abuse that I have rarely seen in all my years in the sport of boxing”.

And Ryan said he intended to launch a full investigation into the unseemly incident.

The letter continued: “With regard to certain Facebook postings, I can only describe them as despicable, sinister and cowardly; the very essence of bullying.

“While I remain as president of this organisation, the officer board and the central council will not tolerate this type of behaviour.

“It is our intention to have a full investigation of all issues surrounding this sorry saga… let me conclude that the provincial secretary was absolutely correct to adhere to the IABA rules.

“To do otherwise could have left her and our organisation open to litigation. We know that she has been under considerable stress and I want her to be aware that she has the full support of the decent people of our association.”

Responding to Ryan’s claims in a letter to the IABA president, County Antrim Board secretary Malachy Scott called for an “honest, fair and open election”.

“Why have you reduced the IAB presidential office to a freak show at the side of what should have been a free and fair election in Ulster for all paid up clubs?” he asked in a letter to Ryan.

“Thirty-two affiliations were sent to the Ulster secretary by the end of June with their payments. Why are you not up in arms demanding that these long-affiliated clubs have their democratic right to vote in subsequent elections?”

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