Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) members who took part in a protest last week are seeking openness, transparency and accountability from the organisation following the removal of three women from its national executive board (NEB).
Patricia Madden, Carol Grogan and Joanne Dunphy Allen were removed from the board last October. A protest over their removal and lack of transparency as to why they were removed from their posts took place at ICA headquarters on Merrion Road, Dublin, last Friday.
There are 17 members on the NEB and two thirds are required to vote to remove a member.
Patricia Madden has been a member for 42 years and said their removal and the fallout since then is affecting everybody in ICA on some level.
She said her experience of being removed from the national executive board has been “horrific”.
“I could speculate all I like as to why I’ve been removed but what’s that going to do? Torture me even more? It’s up to the people, it’s been out in the media. Fourteen members of the national executive board voted to remove three members of the national executive board,” she said.
Joanne Dunphy Allen is the national secretary of the ICA and is company secretary of The Countrywomen’s Trust CLG.
“I started on 29 May 2021 as the national secretary.” she said.
She feels she was removed from the board because she asked questions. “I was asking questions around finances, corporate governance, around how we do things, policies, procedures. I wanted things to be done right.
“For them [members] to be denied answers and for me to be denied answers, like, we deserve them. We’re not trying to make this into a them versus us. For me it has been upsetting, demoralising,” she said.
Carol Grogan said: “We want answers. We want to know why we were removed. At the end of the day we are a membership organisation, 6,000 members in the country. I feel that this is really damaging, the fact that our national executive board [did not appear to have] communicated with the members is so damaging to the organisation.”
Breda Raggett is a former ICA president. She said the members who protested last Friday were “incensed and heartbroken” over what is happening in the organisation. “It’s 122 years old and something like this has never ever happened before. There’s no need for it,” she said.
All members want is “openness, transparency and accountability. That’s all we want.” she told the Irish Farmers Journal.
Helena Fitzgerald travelled from Piltown, Co Kilkenny, to the protest. She said members don’t know why the three women were taken off the board.
“We would like to think that they would get the justice that they deserve, that they will be given their reasons and that they would be reinstated back into their positions on the board,” she said.
Separate to the NEB is the company behind the ICA - The Countrywomen’s Trust CLG. Both Madden and Dunphy Allen are also directors of the company.
It is understood that a meeting is to take place on Friday to remove Madden and Dunphy Allen as directors of the company.
The latest ICA accounts, for 2021, show that the association reported a surplus of €193,500, with total income standing at €873,858 and expenditure coming to €680,358. As of 31 December 2021, the ICA had €13.2m in assets and €964,605 in the bank.