Comhaltas still refuses to discuss dispute with Clontarf
Many have been asking about the status of the dispute between Comhaltas and the dissolved Clontarf branch. In exasperation at the failure of Comhaltas to engage in meaningful dialogue to find a resolution to the dispute the ex-Clontarf branch have issued a public statement. This sets out the current state of play. It has been sent to all branches of Comhaltas.
The following is the statement issued.
Comhaltas is still doing everything it can to prevent discussions taking place to resolve the dispute with the dissolved Clontarf branch. Comhaltas will not engage with Clontarf and won’t allow the issues that caused the dispute to be addressed.
Last year Comhaltas and Clontarf were both asked by the team undertaking the official review commissioned by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (DCRGA) to enter into mediation. Clontarf said yes. Comhaltas said no, wrongly insisting their Bunreacht would not allow it. Even Minister Eamonn O Cuiv, when publishing the report last September, called for “a meaningful engagement in relation to the issues…”
It is clear Comhaltas HQ doesn’t want to engage because they now can’t explain why they summarily dissolved Cluain Tarbh Comhaltas, a hard working branch with nearly 50 years service and over 400 members, without any right of reply or appeal. The official DCRGA report confirmed that the Clasac project, developed by Clontarf, was properly managed and delivered in line with budget projections and that other reasons advanced by Comhaltas at the time for dissolving the branch were totally unfounded.
Clontarf would like to thank everyone, including the huge number of traditional musicians, politicians, people in the local community and so many Comhaltas members and branches for supporting us by not attending the Clasac centre.
We ask you to continue to support justice for Clontarf by not visiting Clasac until the dispute is resolved.
The manner of, and the spurious reasons for, the dissolution of Clontarf should be of concern to everyone in Comhaltas. The lessons from the way Clontarf and its members were treated are clear. It means that every member is vulnerable in an environment where levelling of unfounded allegations and malicious abuse targeted at individual members is sanctioned at the top.
It represents a complete failure of proper governance and a rejection of the most basic standards of fairness by the Ardchomhairle (governing body), the very people charged with protecting the Bunreacht and members rights. The leadership of Comhaltas has continued its campaign against Clontarf even after the branch’s unfair dissolution leaving us with no other conclusion but that it is intent on preventing facts emerging that raise very serious questions about the Ardchomhairle’s conduct and that of the Ardstiúrthóir.
Comhaltas claims that a motion adopted “unanimously” at the annual congress in May 2008 means that branches supported the actions taken against Clontarf. It is clear from the many branches in contact with Clontarf that such a motion was unknown to many of the delegates at the time, suggesting the motion was taken when very few were present. It is inconceivable that genuine branch delegates who have the interests of the organisation and members at heart can be content to be used in this manner to validate the improper actions of the leadership of Comhaltas.
The way Comhaltas dealt with Clontarf and the failure of governance must also be pursued by the Minister for Arts and Minister for Community, Equality and the Gaeltacht. They provided over €9m in public funding to develop Clasac, which now stands virtually idle, and also contribute substantial annual funding to the running costs of the centre. Ministers have put their trust in Comhaltas, a national body that has as one of its aims to represent what should be good about Irish society and local communities.
Good governance, as practiced by many other national sporting and cultural bodies, must ensure at the very least that members’ grievances must be addressed fairly and openly. The members of these organisations demand nothing less from their leadership and governing bodies. It’s time that these same standards were demanded of, and delivered by, the leadership of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Issued by Ceoltóirí Chluain Tarbh – 26 April 2010