Irish Sports Council issue public rebuke for IABA over handling of Walsh issue

By Michael O’Neill

It is very rare, indeed almost unheard of in sporting circles for the Irish Sports Council to issue a statement which even in the relatively mild terms used, does in fact constitute a major public rebuke for the Sport’s Governing Body in Ireland, the Irish Amateur Boxing Association.

That the statement includes a quote from Kieran Mulvey itself shows the seriousness with which the I.S.C attached to the appalling way in which Billy Walsh has been treated thus far.

Here is that statement in full:

“The Irish Sports Council (ISC) is disappointed that an agreement has not been reached between Billy Walsh and the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) in relation to the role of Head Coach of the High Performance Unit.

Billy Walsh has been instrumental in the sustained success of Irish Boxing and was fundamental in the development of the High Performance Systems that continues to achieve on the World, Olympic and European stage.

Since February, the ISC has been aware that Billy had received an offer internationally. From the outset, the ISC, made it clear that it wanted to retain Billy Walsh and was available to provide whatever support was required.

That said the ISC however recognises that it is a matter for the IABA to resolve.

Following a series of talks, the ISC presented a proposal which addressed the needs and concerns of all parties.  The proposal was to be brought to the board of the IABA on 25 August.

On the 25 August the ISC was informed that the proposal would not be presented to the board and that a sub-committee was suggesting a new version that was substantially different to the original proposal.

In effect this unilateral action ended the ISC’s initiative. It is not aware of any progress over the past few days.  It has advised the IABA to act quickly and to revert to the original proposal if the situation is to be resolved.

Kieran Mulvey, Chairman of the Irish Sports Council said: “The ISC has been clear and unambiguous in its desire to keep Billy Walsh in Irish sport. We communicated clearly to the IABA that we would provide whatever support is necessary to retain Billy. It was our understanding that a framework and agreement had been reached by all parties. The ISC were surprised and extremely disappointed that the proposal  was not presented to the IABA board. We urge the IABA to act quickly and decisively in the matter”.

It would be unhelpful to add our own views on that subject at this time but suffice to say that the Irish boxing community shares that ‘extreme disappointment’ as can be witnessed from comments on social media, on websites and in National Media.

For now let us simply express the hope that the IABA Executive Council ‘comes to its senses’ and does the right thing by Billy Walsh and his team – and in accordance with the wishes of their own membership.

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