Two former presidents and four other council members of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland have resigned over what they claim to be serious governance failings in the organisation.
Their letters of resignation were delivered in advance of an extraordinary general meeting of the institute in Dublin tonight which was called to debate motions relating to implementation of a controversial amendment to the Building Control Act.
The six who resigned were members of an RIAI “reform group” campaigning against the amendment, which makes it mandatory on architects, engineers or other building professionals to certify that new building comply with regulations.
Other issues raised by the group included claims of a “recurring and increasing deficit” in the RIAI’s accounts, its dual role as a membership organisation and a regulatory body for architects, and the “lack of open debate” to end a “growing alienation” among members.
At last night’s meeting, a motion tabled by the group – which includes former RIAI presidents Joan O’Connor and Eoin Ó Cofaigh – calling on the council to seek a “revocation” of the building control amendment was defeated by 165 votes to 102.
Another motion, which had the support of the institute’s officers, calling on members to support the council’s efforts to have the new regulations amended to reflect concerns of architects about consumer protection, was overwhelmingly carried.
RIAI president Robin Mandal, who chaired the meeting, said afterwards that the six had resigned "because they didn't get their way" in changing its policy. Institute director John Graby said they had "done the honourable thing" in the circumstances.
Ms O’Connor said she was resigning because the council had “not made material progress” on any of the issues raised by the reform group and “failed in its responsibilities” to ensure that the institute was “solvent, well-run and delivering the outcomes for which it is set up”.
She claimed that the RIAI president and some members of the 24-strong council “try to suppress contrarian views” on the building control amendment. Those who held such views were “effectively gagged (and) subjected to ridicule and hostile interrogation”.
There had been “repeated requests” from individual council members for “essential financial information” about the institute’s affairs, but these has been met by “hostile questioning of the motives of the authors of this letter”, said Ms O’Connor in her resignation letter.
Ms O’Connor’s claims were described as “absolute and utter nonsense” by Mr Mandal, who said he also found them “deeply upsetting”. He also denied that there was any financial crisis, saying the institute had €2.9 million in the bank.