New twist to Mayo Ladies GAA controversy

 ALTHOUGH GAA matters countrywide are still very much at a standstill due to Covid-19, it hasn’t stopped another twist taking place regarding the ongoing Mayo Ladies GAA County Board saga.

The Connaught Telegraph has learned that in the past week, all ladies GAA clubs in Mayo have received at least three emails, two of which have come from the Connacht Ladies GAA secretary, Mary Hernon, and one from the 10-member executive which stepped aside earlier this month until their concerns over the 2019 Mayo County Board finances were fully addressed.

However, how the Mayo club delegates and the 10-member executive see this crisis being resolved and what the Connacht GAA Council are suggesting couldn’t be much further apart.

It is very difficult to see why this current saga could not easily be sorted out.

If the Mayo club delegates and 10 of the executive who were elected at the annual general meeting last December just want clarification regarding financial matters with the Mayo County Board in 2019, then why is this not forthcoming?

Surely it would put an end to this crisis.

I just wonder why the Connacht Ladies GAA Council or Croke Park have not demanded the answers that the Mayo club delegates and executive members have requested.

I am sure they must know something is not right when only two of the 2019 executive saw fit not to seek re-election at the annual general meeting last December and why 11 of the newly elected executive saw fit to step aside within 12 weeks of taking up their positions.

There is only one way to put an end to this.

The answers to the questions regarding the finances being asked must be given before any elections take place.

Before looking at the different emails sent to Mayo clubs last week, I first want to address one issue regarding Connacht Ladies GAA's involvement in this saga.

Two weeks ago I spoke with the Connacht Ladies GAA secretary, Mary Hernon, regarding the crisis in Mayo Ladies GAA.

I asked if Connacht Ladies GAA were running the Mayo County Board as all bar one of the executive, the chairperson, had stepped aside on March 10.

The response from the secretary, which we published in The Connaught Telegraph issue of March 17, was that the chairperson, Yvonne McEvilly, and the club delegates were running the Mayo County Board and that Connacht Ladies GAA were not involved but were on hand to help or advise on any matter if requested.

However, on learning that the Connacht secretary had sent two emails to Mayo ladies GAA clubs last week regarding Mayo County Board issues, I was mystified and alarm bells started ringing.

On Sunday last I contacted Mary Hernon again and she told me if I was calling about anything to do about Mayo Ladies GAA she was making no comment.

But when I asked if she would offer clarity regarding what she said to me two weeks previous - that Connacht Ladies GAA were not involved in running Mayo Ladies GAA but were willing to give advice if requested - she replied that was the case.

When I followed that question up by asking Ms. Hernon why had she then sent two emails to Mayo Ladies GAA clubs last week regarding the Mayo Ladies GAA saga, I was quoted this and that rule.

Finally, I said to the Connacht secretary that the main concern the Mayo GAA Club delegates and the 10-member executive (who stepped aside until the 2019 finances were fully addressed) related to a sum of €19,300 in 2019 which was never identified.

The following is the email sent last week by the Mayo Ladies GAA 10-member executive who stepped aside on March 10 until the finances of the 2019 Mayo County Board were addressed.

“As you are aware, the members that stepped down from their positions on March 10 requested an EGM. We are attaching a copy of the official request that was signed and posted to the Connacht secretary.

“We would like to ask all club delegates to think about the following:

“Why have clubs not been officially informed by the Connacht Secretary since 10th March that the 10 members who stepped away requested an EGM?

“Why has no official from Connacht asked the 10 members why they stepped away?

“Is the EGM requested on March 10th going to be facilitated. If not, why not?

“We stepped away until answers are given to the questions that you the delegates and we the executive have been asking since December.

“Why has the chairperson refused to answer any queries regarding the Garda report she made alleging misappropriation of Mayo LGFA funds in December?

“Why are answers not forthcoming on the €19,300 written down to senior management in 2019?

“Why is there such a rush to replace the executives that stepped away?

“Clubs now need to decide which EGM goes ahead:

1. The one requested by the 10 executive members on March 10th where we get clarity on outstanding issues and move forward and enforce procedures, transparency and accountability; or

2. The EGM requested by the Connacht secretary to elect a new executive. In this scenario, all questions regarding finance and accountability go unanswered.

“Is this the standard we want and expect from our county board? Is this the standard of governance, transparency and accountability that is acceptable to Connacht and Croke Park?

“With the support of the delegates, we are willing to resume our respective roles once our questions have answered and we can ensure there is transparency and accountability in all Mayo LGFA matters.”

The Connacht Ladies GAA secretary, as already stated, sent two emails to the Mayo clubs last week.

The first of these outlined that Mayo Ladies GAA will hold an EGM when restrictions on gatherings due to Covid-19 are lifted.

It reads: “Can I start by hoping that you, your family and your club are coping with the extraordinary times we are living in.

“None of us know when the Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted, but they will some time.

“The first thing that will happen, when the restriction on gatherings is lifted, Mayo LGFA will have an EGM.

“The EGM will elect personnel to fill the vacant positions on the executive of the board.

“The positions to be filled by election are: vice-chairperson, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, assistant treasurer, PRO, registrar, cultural and language officer, delegates to both provincial and central councils.

“The positions for development officer and children's officer are appointed positions and will be filled by the new executive.

“I am attaching a nomination paper for your club to fill and sign. This nomination paper is to be returned to me,

“I have not put a return date on this, but immediately the restriction on gatherings is lifted I will notify you of the return date.

“In the mean time I ask you all to stay safe, mind yourselves and mind each other.”

The secretary's second email was in response to the concerns raised by the executive about the agenda for the EGM.