The AGM of Paralympics Ireland was held earlier this week in the Clayton Hotel, Dublin Airport. The meeting was chaired by Vice President John Fulham in the absence of President James Gradwell.
Delivering the President’s address on Mr. Gradwell’s behalf, Fulham looked back over yet another hugely successful year for Paralympic Irish athletes in which 14 senior championship medals were won in the sports or athletics, cycling, swimming and table tennis.
“2015 was another strong year for Paralympic Sport in Ireland with the senior athletes again winning multiple medals at major Championships. As always, that success came with some significant challenges brought about by the strengthening of competition within the Paralympic movement worldwide, the challenges of governance and the ever increasing demand for finance to invest in high performance para sport in Ireland to ensure we retain our place as one of the top small nations in the movement,” he stated.
Commenting on some of the challenges facing the organisation in delivering the strategic plan – Securing Success Together – he announced that the Board had approved budget in 2016 for the founding of the Paralympic Academy and the commencement of the Paralympians Programme, a new programme ‘to recognise all of Ireland’s Paralympians in a special and permanent way”.
Looking ahead to Rio and the likely Irish team size of 45 athletes, Gradwell continued: “Rio 2016 is only around the corner. Paralympics Ireland have been busily preparing for the Games which will take place in a challenging environment. We are encouraged by recent reports of progress by the Rio 2016 organising committee, however we feel we will be relying on the safety blanket of the Olympic Games preceding the Paralympics in order to iron out many of the challenges currently of concern to National Paralympic Committees”
Paying particularly attention in his address to the financial resources for the organisation to prepare and send the team to Rio, he added: “The cost of the Games operation to Paralympics Ireland has been estimated at €742,000. Sport Ireland have allocated an additional allocation of €290,000 against this which we are very grateful for. The budget however, does include an aggressive private revenue raising target of €564,000 in 2016,” he continued before thanking Paralympics Ireland partners and sponsors, Allianz Ireland, Mondelez International, OCS Group Ireland, the Dalata Hotels Group and McInerney Saunders.
In other business, Eimear Breathnach’s position as a Vice President of Paralympics Ireland was officially ratified on the night by ballot of the members. She had been acting in the position since being co-opted by the Board last September.
One of the primary discussion points of the evening was the debate on the adoption of revised Memorandum & Articles of Association. CEO, Liam Harbison and John Hogan of Leman Solicitors brought the members through the process and the changes being proposed, most of which were to bring the organisation in line with the Companies Act 2014 and the Governance Code. All proposals were adopted by the members.
The meeting concluded with a number of operational updates from Denis Toomey (Chef de Mission), Dave Malone (Performance Director), Mary McGuire (Media & Events Manager) and Patrick Haslett (Commercial Director).
The 2015 Annual Report and Financial Statements can be downloaded here.
The full Presidents Address can be downloaded here.