Irish Countrywomen’s Association election row comes before High Court

Solicitor for association undertakes not to destroy votes returned for its recent elections

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart adjourned the case to later this month to allow the ICA  time to respond to the claims made.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart adjourned the case to later this month to allow the ICA time to respond to the claims made.

 

A dispute over the conduct of elections for national president and other executive positions of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association has come before the High Court.

A solicitor for the ICA undertook before the court on Friday not to destroy votes returned for its recent elections.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart adjourned the case to later this month to allow the organisation time to respond to the claims made.

ICA member Patricia Madden, a barrister with an address at St Mobhi Road, Glasnevin, Dublin, had sought an injunction preventing destruction of the ballot papers in the context of her concerns about the conduct of the association’s 2018 elections for positions of national president, national secretary, national treasurer and regional presidents.

In a sworn statement, Ms Madden said the action arose from concerns held by her and other members about the manner in which the elections for the various positions were held.

There were also concerns over alleged breaches of the association’s constitution over the last number of months, she said. She said votes for the various positions were submitted by post, with a closing date of April 27th last.

She said the ballot papers have not been counted and a declaration has not been made as to the names of the successful candidates. That, she claims, amounts to breach of the ICA’s constitution.

The results of the election should have been announced before its AGM which was held in Athlone on May 26th, she claims.

She said she initiated proceedings because it was “intimated to me” by the chair of the ICA’s Procedures Committee the ballot papers would be destroyed at the first available opportunity.

Many members are concerned over how the elections have been handled and want the ballots secured, she said.

The ballots are being held in a post office box in Ballsbridge and at the ICA HQ in Dublin, she said.

Representing herself, Ms Madden, a member of the ICA since 1979 who has served on the national executive as an elected member for Leinster, previously secured permission from the court to serve short notice of the proceedings .

When the matter returned before Ms Justice Stewart on Friday, a solicitor for the ICA gave an undertaking to the court the ballots would not be destroyed and asked the court for time to respond to the claim. The judge adjourned the matter to later this month.