Votes on constitutional change and elections for president, secretary and treasurer make Sunday’s agm of Rowing Ireland one of the most momentous in its history.
The changes, which require 75 per cent support to be adopted, concern removing the power of the president to automatically chair Board meetings; dispensing with the post of honorary treasurer and adopting a new way of nominating directors, which would cut the provincial representation and add nominations from coastal/offshore and athletes. The fourth change up for consideration from club delegates concerns a reform of the constitution.
There have been a series of roadshows on the proposed changes.
Sport Ireland has made it clear that present funding is not directly linked to any change. Funding for carded High Performance athletes is unaffected by policies of governing bodies.
The presidential race pits two men with very different profiles against each other.
Neville Maxwell has been an international athlete and a long-time Board member, chairing the High Performance Committee of Rowing Ireland. He was a major player in bringing on board the present high performance director, Antonio Maurogiovanni.
Mick O’Callaghan, though heavily involved with international rowing for years and a force behind the development of the National Rowing Centre, has been a critic of the Board and has run his campaign on the need to put clubs and volunteers at the centre of thinking going forward.
The Board has been without a president since March, when Susan Dunlea resigned.
The election for Secretary sees Emily Dulohery take on Nessa Foley and Paul Kavanagh challenges Leo Gibson for the Treasurer’s post.
The reports to the agm include a characteristically strong one from Maurogiovanni: under his charge 15 athletes in Olympic-class boats won medals this year – in total, Ireland crews won 19 medals. He says 27 athletes should qualify for carding.
His worries include the shape of the domestic season, with an Irish Championships in July clashing with his plans for international athletes – the programme for the 2023 season will be adopted before the agm.
Maurogiovanni also says that ‘exclusive use” of the National Rowing Centre was a positive factor in moving on from the “toxic environment” which was found to have existed in the run to Rio 2016.
This week a review found continuing reservations amongst athletes about the environment in the present high performance programme.
Maurogiovanni has a bigger team and says it is clear that funding must increase, or the “difficult decision to downsize the team” would have to be made.
The reports to the agm contain myriad details. The pay of the employees of Rowing Ireland is outlined: at the top end, one person earns between €110,000 and €120,000, two are on €70,000 to €80,000 and one is on €80,000 to €90,000.
Rowing Ireland ran a small surplus, €4,353, for 2021.