Charlie Toland: I feel vindicaTed after IABA decision to declare Ulster Council election null and void

Ormeau Road coach Charlie Toland ran for the position of secretary at last month's Ulster Council elections. Picture by Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

THE man who ran for the post of Ulster Council secretary has said he feels “vindicated” after the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) declared last month’s provincial elections null and void.

Charlie Toland contested the post of secretary, running alongside Kevin Duffy who was going for the presidency, but both missed out when current incumbents Sadie Duffy and Paul McMahon were re-elected.

However, controversy surrounded those elections after over 25 clubs were unable to vote having failed to submit their affiliation forms by the end of May.

Claims and counter-claims were offered in the weeks leading up to the elections, with both IABA chief executive Fergal Carruth and president Pat Ryan having their say.

And now, at a meeting last Wednesday, IABA’S board of directors have written to the Ulster Council top brass advising them that the elections were declared null and void, and should be “restarted" and overseen by BKRM - "the official auditors for the IABA Ltd".

In a letter signed by chairman Joe Christle, it was stated that:

1. All clubs affiliated with their county board before 31/5/2017 shall vote in all elections namely county board, provincial council and national elections.

2. All clubs affiliated with their provincial council before 30/6/2017 shall vote in the provincial council and national elections.

3. All clubs affiliated with the national body before 31/7/2017 shall vote in the national elections.

“The board of directors, in arriving at their decision, took into account a number of factors including legal advice by senior counsel, the custom and practice of past elections and most importantly the fact that a change in the interpretation of the rule limiting voting in all elections to only those clubs that have affiliated prior to the 31st of May 2017 had not been adequately communicated to the clubs in advance.

“On that basis, the board of directors were of the opinion that it would not be reasonable to expect all clubs to be aware that this year, the rule would be interpreted narrowly leading to the exclusion of many clubs from the election/voting process.

“As a result of this the board of directors will now direct the Ulster Boxing Council to re-run their elections, thus ensuring the broadest possible democratic mandate is achieved.”

Ulster Council president McMahon refused to comment on the matter for the time being, but Toland insisted he felt the right decision had finally been arrived at.

“I feel vindicated,” said the Ormeau Road coach.

“I was accused of making things up and being a trouble-maker, but I knew I was right. We got some help before making our position public, that what we were saying was correct in the legal sense.”

Toland admitted he left the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh on August 13 “deflated and very disappointed” but says, in retrospect, he is glad it went ahead rather than being cancelled or postponed.

“It will maybe let people see how backward we are in our own governance at the minute, and that what we need is to be dragged into the present,” he continued.

“We’re a high performing sport, we want to attract more money, more investment, we need it to invest in boxers and coaches. We can’t do without it in order to progress on the world stage.

“If we can fix things at foundation level, and coach the coaches, then we’ll hopefully have a never-ending conveyor belt of talent.”

It remains to be seen whether another election will be held any time soon, but Toland insists that – as long as all clubs are permitted to vote – he will support whoever is elected.

“To be honest, when the election takes place again, regardless of who’s voted in, I’ll be more than happy to support the winners – simply for the reason that everybody will have received a vote, and it will have been an equal and equitable process.”

Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) officials, left to right, Joe Christle, Pat Ryan, Fergal Carruth and Ciaran Kirwan, pictured in 2015


THE politics inside the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) have come to the fore again as an internal dispute over the staging of an extraordinary general meeting rumbles on.

A gathering of some members had been convened for Parnell’s GAA club in Coolock on Sunday morning to discuss issues surrounding the IABA rulebook, but chief executive Fergal Carruth issued a missive stating that the planned meeting was “invalid” and “hereby formally cancelled”.

Not so, according to IABA president Pat Ryan, who said he will not be “bullied” and insisted the meeting would go ahead as planned.

In his initial correspondence, Carruth said: “The mechanism by which proposals for rule changes can be made is clearly set out under rule 41 of the current rulebook.

“In essence, proposals for alterations to the rules are invited to be submitted for consideration by the rulebook sub-committee, consisting of Pat Ryan, president director, Joe Hernon, vice-president director, Ciaran Kirwan, director and Joe Christle, chairman for ultimate approval by the board of directors.

“We now formally request that you submit your proposals for rule changes in writing to the rulebook sub-committee for their consideration at your earliest convenience.”

However, in an email sent on Sunday, Ryan described Carruth’s letter as “proof, if indeed proof was needed, that there is a concerted effort to undermine the authority of the general membership by a group of directors who are neither elected nor indeed answerable to the ordinary members.”

He added: “As president of the IABA, I wish to put on record the fact that I will not be bullied nor will I be pressured by threats of a court injunction as was indicated at the recent Board Meeting.

“Mr Carruth's assertion that they are enforcing rule 41 of the rulebook adopted by the directors on 14 June 2017 would not stand up to scrutiny at any level. I will not dignify that attempt to intimidate the general membership by responding to his statement.

“Let me state clearly that the extraordinary convention scheduled for Sunday will proceed as planned at the Parnell GAA club, Coolock Village at 11am.”

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