Directors in Cycling Ireland have distanced themselves from the body’s president after he issued a public statement calling for board resignations.
Divisions at the top of the organisation spilled into the open over the weekend, days after it admitted using “false quotations” when claiming a €52,100 government grant in 2020. The money was never released, and the Department of Sport suspended its access to capital funding for 12 months.
President of Cycling Ireland and board chairman Liam Collins called on Saturday night for three board resignations, saying in a statement to some 22,000 members that he himself would stand down before an annual general meeting scheduled for November.
But board members remained in situ following a meeting yesterday. In a statement last night, directors noted Mr Collins’s remarks and said they were issued “on his own behalf”.
The statement said: “The board is acutely conscious that the members of the company rightly feel that recent events do nothing to serve the interests of the sport of cycling.”
Asked whether Mr Collins was at the board meeting, a spokesman said he was invited but did not attend. “He has received all board communications and documentation subsequent to that meeting,” the spokesman said.
In its statement, the board said it was writing to the Department of Sport and Sport Ireland “to advise them of the issues that appear to have given rise” to the president’s communication. “In addition, the board will engage with Sport Ireland in relation to the appointment of additional directors, as suggested by the president.”
The directors resolved to convene an extraordinary general meeting of Cycling Ireland, the trading company for the Irish Cycling Federation, to inform members of the issues. Mr Collins had said he was not opposed to an egm but believed “the more sensible approach” was to pursue a board overhaul.
Cycling Ireland, the governing body for the sport on the island of Ireland, received almost €10 million in public money in the five years to 2020. Reports in The Irish Times one week ago on a critical internal audit that found errors, ineptitude and governance failings in Cycling Ireland are said to have stirred tension at the top of the organisation.
In a statement circulated via email to members and published on Cycling Ireland’s website, Mr Collins said Sport Ireland should assist with new board appointments.
“Having recently been elected as president of Cycling Ireland, I can state with certainty that board relations are far from ideal and there appears to be little prospect of matters improving in the near future,” said Mr Collins, an accountant based in Co Limerick.
“It is a regretful situation, but it is a fact that the members of Cycling Ireland are not being served by a unified, cohesive board.”
In their statement, the directors said they shared Mr Collins’ desire for a “unified and cohesive” board. “The best way to achieve that objective is for the board to work together to rebuild relationships and address the issues facing the company. The board is committing to making that happen.”
A spokesman for Sport Ireland did not reply to phone calls yesterday. Sport Ireland is the State supervisor of national governing bodies for sports, Cycling Ireland among them. The Department of Sport said it had no comment “at this time” when asked about Mr Collins’ statement.
Both the department and Sport Ireland have said the release of any 2022 funding to Cycling Ireland depends on whether it implements reforms recommended in the internal audit report, which was carried out by Kosi Corporation.