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More boxing upheaval as IABA chairman and CEO announce their resignations

Fergal Carruth and Ciaran Kirwan’s decision ‘follows the rejection by delegates of the proposals on good corporate governance at the IABA’s EGM in Roscommon on 10 July.’

Departing IABA CEO Fergal Carruth.
Departing IABA CEO Fergal Carruth.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE IRISH ATHLETIC Boxing Association’s CEO, Fergal Carruth, and its chairman, Ciarán Kirwan, have announced their resignations from their respective roles within the association.

Irish boxing’s two highest-ranking officials said in a statement released on Thursday night that their decision to walk away ‘follows the rejection by delegates of the proposals on good corporate governance at the IABA’s EGM in Roscommon on 10 July.’

Carruth and Kirwan will stand down on 2 September.

Though the ramifications from what was essentially a protest vote at the fateful Roscommon EGM last month left each of them in virtually untenable positions, their resignations come as a surprise.

As had been formally threatened by Sport Ireland and Minister for Sport Jack Chambers prior to the EGM, state funding to amateur boxing was cut by 15% — or €75,000 — when IABA club delegates from around the country overwhelmingly voted down several proposals for governance reform which had been recommended in an independent report and supported by Carruth and Kirwan.

The IABA, whose board has ostensibly been divided for two years, was given until mid-September to present new governance proposals to Sport Ireland and the sports minister. At a Sport Ireland press conference on Tuesday, the organisation’s high performance director Paul McDermott and Minister Chambers confirmed that they had been in contact with IABA CEO Carruth and chairman Kirwan since the EGM and that “dialogue” within boxing’s NGB was ongoing some five weeks out from its deadline.

In a statement released by the IABA tonight, it was confirmed that Carruth and Kirwan had “notified the board of directors of their resignations from their respective roles.”

“Their decision follows the rejection by delegates of the proposals on good corporate governance at the IABA’s EGM on 10 July,” the statement added.

Carruth, who has appointed IABA CEO in 2013, said: “Having been involved with boxing all my life, serving as CEO of the IABA has been the privilege of a lifetime, especially given all the success enjoyed by Irish boxing in the ring during this time.

“I am delighted, too, that there are more people than ever involved in our sport. Membership has almost tripled, 25% of which is now female. There are now 350 clubs serving communities nationwide, an increase of over 100 clubs since 2013.

I am leaving with more than a little regret but believe that there are those within the sport who do not recognise the importance of compliance with the highest standards of corporate governance, which are vital in underpinning the growth and development of our wonderful sport. I hope that the decision to step down may serve as a catalyst for necessary change and that the Irish boxing family finds a way to maximise its significant potential in the future.

Kirwan, a solicitor by profession, said it had been “an honour and a privelege” to serve as IABA director since 2014 and chairman since 2019. “I am passionate about Irish boxing having come from a family steeped in the sport.

However, I believe that the requirements in terms of good governance set out by the government, and indeed the governance report commissioned by the IABA’s Board of Directors, are correct and entirely reasonable, particularly in the context of the National Sports Policy and the scale of government funding now available to sport in this country.

“It is time for a new voice to serve as chairperson and I am hopeful that the impediments to the adoption of the necessary good governance changes can be overcome.

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“Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Fergal and all the staff of the IABA whose work is so vital to the continued success of Irish boxing and all of whom have been a pleasure to work with.”

Sport Ireland and Minister Chambers were informed of Carruth and Kirwan’s resignations earlier today.

The IABA said that “the process of appointing a chairperson of the Board of Directors and chief executive officer will begin presently.”

The association is also currently without a high performance director after Bernard Dunne’s resignation in May.

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