Foley appointed interim chief executive of Tennis Ireland

Move comes in the wake of the organisation suspending three directors late last year

There have been governance issues withing Tennis Ireland for a number of years. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

There have been governance issues withing Tennis Ireland for a number of years. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

 

The former head of Athletics Ireland and interim chief executive of Cycling Ireland, John Foley, has been appointed as the interim chief executive of Tennis Ireland.

It is understood that Richard Fahy, who left the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to become the chief executive of Tennis Ireland in January 2017 following the retirement of the late Des Allen, will not be continuing in the position into 2022.

Foley retired from Athletics Ireland in April 2018 after nine years in charge. He has vast experience in the business world, working in senior marketing positions for most of his career.

A former brand manager at Johnson & Johnson, he is also a former director of marketing at Bord na Mona and was chief executive at Waterford Crystal for almost nine years. He turned down an interim chief executive role with the FAI in 2019. In a statement, the then sports minister Shane Ross paid tribute to him for his long service to Irish sport and his work in various executive roles.

The move comes after a period of turmoil in Tennis Ireland culminating in three directors, including the president, being suspended towards the end of last year.

Two of the directors, Clifford Carroll and Robert Cummins, represented the Munster branch of Tennis Ireland and were suspended shortly after the start of a specially convened meeting in November. President Shane Cooke, who refused to disassociate himself from the Munster directors, was also later suspended.

Grievance complaint

A story in the Irish Examiner at the time reported that the suspensions followed accusations of a confidentiality breach in the wake of a report about allegations of poor governance at Tennis Ireland.

There has been a rift in Tennis Ireland for a number of years. The well-known Irish tennis player, Dave Miley, who was unsuccessful in his bid to succeed Allen as chief executive, took a grievance complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in the summer of 2017.

His complaint was upheld and the WRC subsequently ruled that Tennis Ireland was guilty of age discrimination, contrary to employment equality law. Subsequently Miley was awarded damages of €6,500.

Among the current governance issues of concern at Tennis Ireland are allegations of board meetings being convened to which only a select number of directors were invited as well as a bullying complaint that was not correctly investigated.

It was also alleged that most of the subcommittees of the Tennis Ireland board had not been convened for two years and that attempts had been made to undermine Fahy.

Sport Ireland, the funding body for sports in the State, had recently asked for a governance review to be conducted by the Institute of Public Administration.

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