Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media

Governance in Irish Athletic Boxing Association: Discussion

Photo of Malcolm ByrneMalcolm Byrne (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Like colleagues, I wish Mr. Treacy well on his retirement. I probably mentioned to him before that one of my fondest childhood sporting memories is watching him rounding the corner in the stadium in Los Angeles. He has made an enormous contribution to sport, both as an athlete and as an administrator. It is important that is put on the record.

Mr. Kirwan said boxing is volunteer-led. The boxing clubs in my county of Wexford make tremendous contributions within the local community. I was fortunate to be at the London Olympics and saw Katie Taylor's winning fight and how she inspired people. Being from Wexford, the witnesses will also appreciate that Billy Walsh has been an inspiration to so many young boxers, as have all our Olympians, not just the medalists. Back in 2015, Billy, who gave so much to the sport, felt he was treated very badly. A lot of issues arose around boxing at the time. Sport Ireland and Kieran Mulvey stepped in very quickly, and within 24 hours he was asking for answers. Billy Walsh still feels he was treated badly at that time but he has moved on in the interim. There was a lot of controversy around boxing back in 2015 and we are now seemingly back here again. Others have mentioned some of the other organisations and the experiences of national governing bodies, NGBs, but the only other organisation where I have encountered grassroots organisations grumbling to the same extent about what has been going on at senior levels has been the FAI. I ask Mr. Treacy to give us some assurances that what is happening in boxing at the moment is not the same as what went on in the FAI. Are there any lessons or parallels to be drawn there?

My second question, which is crucial, is about moving on from here. I appreciate that reviews are happening and I know there are disagreements but I want to see all the boxing clubs working together as part of a national organisation. The most important thing is that the athletes are supported but also that boxing clubs are supported within our communities. Colleagues have raised all the difficulties that are there. Structures can be changed but what confidence-building measures are going to be put in place? Whoever the members of this committee are in four or five years, we should not be having a discussion or debate around boxing again like we did five or six years ago.


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