Delegates and board to discuss funding row behind closed doors

Meeting in private following legal advice

Photo: Sportsfile

Photo: Sportsfile

The officers of the Mayo GAA County Board and delegates from the clubs in the county will meet in private next Monday night to discuss the board's response to a series of letters from the Mayo International Supporters Foundation.

At the monthly meeting of the board held on Wednesday night, a response to a letter sent by the foundation in September was read out by the county board secretary, Dermot Butler – but no questions were taken from the delegates on it.

Prior to the reading of the letter, the chairperson of the board, Mike Connelly, told the members that, following legal advice, no questions would be taken on the letter from the delegates until the meeting on Monday night, which will be held behind closed doors with just the elected officers and club delegates present.

Mr Connelly told the meeting: “Since we were supposed to have a meeting on October 16 [which was postponed until this week] to deal with the first set of letters, we received a number of emails since that. As you know there has also been a lot of press in relation to all the emails, and on Monday of this week we were summoned to the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence by Croke Park to go through exactly what was happening.

"We also had to take legal advice on these emails because there were a lot of allegations within these emails. We have a response — the letter will be read out — and the advice we have been given by our solicitors is that we will take no further questions on it. The advice is that we must have a meeting with our delegates, and delegates only, and that will take place next Monday. Because what has gone on and what has been said, we really need to have a heart to heart conversation."

The letter read out by Mr Butler followed the paragraph headings from the letter received by the board from the foundation, dated September 24 2019.

In the letter, the board said that it acknowledged the donation of €150,000 made by Tim O’Leary, the founder of the foundation, in 2018, and they furnished him with receipts showing how the money was spent, and the board stands over its explanation of how the money was spent.

Under the heading of 'Worldwide Mayo Supporters Club' – they said that they were “delighted to have the assistance of such a supporters' network provided that there is a clear understanding that all funds raised are under the umbrella of Cairde Maigh Eo. As you will be aware Mayo GAA has one fundraising arm, and that is Cairde Maighe Eo. Ultimate control of monies raised remains with Mayo GAA County Board.”

Under the heading of 'Gala Ball in New York' the board said that in relation to a letter sent on April 9, 2019, “There is no mention in the letter of who has ultimate control of the monies raised in the name of Mayo GAA. It was made abundantly clear to Mr O’Leary the monies raised in the name of Mayo GAA must remain in control of Mayo GAA County Board.”

The letter also stated that the board acknowledged the payment of the bill for the training camp, which the Mayo senior team attended in Rocklands after the game, was paid by the foundation. They went on to say that “there was no request from the Mayo GAA Board to send the money on.”

When it came to the provision of 10 tickets for the All Ireland final for the gala action held on the night of the gala ball in New York, the board stated: “There was no commitment from Mayo GAA County Board to provide 10 tickets for the gala auction. The county board committed to provide two tickets, and these were provided.”

The board also acknowledged the receipt of €150,000 from Mr O’Leary – but said no other monies have been received from Mr O’Leary or the foundation.

The letter concluded: “The county board looks forward to the receipt of €250,000 raised on behalf of Mayo GAA County Board by the Foundation.”

Earlier in the meeting, the issue of credit card use by the county board was raised by one club, who asked how many county board officials have a credit card; how much has been spent on credit cards in a 12 month period, and how much has been paid in penalties and interest and late payments over the last three years.

Responding to the queries, county board treasurer, Kevin O’Toole, said: “No officer of the county board has a credit card. The county board has a credit card which is in the administrator's office to pay for hospital bills that require immediate payment, diesel and petrol, and any of the underage team expenses where we have an agreement with hotels where we pay by credit card. €27,345 was what went through the credit card last year, there has been no penalty payments and all payments are made in time. We got a credit card in February of last year, it has a maximum limit of €3,000 a month.”


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