IABA hope HP director Bernard Dunne will 'reconsider' resignation

IABA High Performance director Bernard Dunne, who has been on extended leave since returning from last summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo, has tendered his resignation. Picture by INPHO
Neil Loughran

THE Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) hopes that Bernard Dunne will “reconsider” his decision to resign as High Performance director.

Former world champion Dunne took up the role in 2017, just six months after a disastrous Rio 2016 Olympics when a highly-fancied Ireland team returned home empty-handed.

The build-up to that Games was also overshadowed by the controversial loss of long-serving head coach Billy Walsh, who instead led USA to Brazil and has since overseen considerable success.

Dunne was team manager at last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, where Kellie Harrington finished top of the podium, with Aidan Walsh landing bronze.

However, the IABA confirmed that the Dubliner has been on extended leave since returning from Tokyo.

According to the IABA, Dunne lodged a complaint against two volunteers in October 2021 after an unsigned SWOT analysis – a strategic planning and management technique used to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – critical of his performance was circulated at board level months before the Olympics.

It was confirmed yesterday that Dunne had since tendered his resignation, with an IABA statement saying that it “deeply regrets Bernard’s decision”.

“The IABA would also like to note that its acceptance of his resignation is provisional as it has asked Bernard to reconsider his decision,” read the statement.

"Under Bernard's leadership, the HPU has been reinvigorated in the wake of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Since his appointment, Ireland's boxers won two Olympic medals, gold, and bronze, 27 medals at World and European level– a feat made more remarkable by the fact Ireland’s boxers were not in competition for long periods of time due to Covid 19 restrictions.”

Regarding the SWOT document, the IABA said that it "has always regarded this document as malicious and an appalling attack on a member of staff and on the High-Performance Unit."

"The anonymous document entered the public domain in February 2021. The person or persons who authored it have elected not to claim responsibility for it at the time of publication or at any stage since.

“An initial hearing of Bernard’s complaint, made in October 2021, took place at the end of April, and was adjourned with the agreement of all parties. The process is ongoing.

"It’s important to note that there are 28,000 people in the Irish Boxing family, and, like all families, there can be divergent views. A small cohort of the Irish Boxing family, however, has expressed robust dissatisfaction with the High-Performance Unit since its inception in 2003.

“They desire to see the selection of Team Ireland boxers for international competition and all connected matters, undertaken by people other than professionals/High Performance staff.

“This is not a realistic option in modern high-performance sport. This is not a risk that should be taken with Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport. Half of Ireland’s boxing Olympic medals have been won since the inception of the HPU and it is imperative that this winning structure is supported and protected."

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