IPA Ireland explore new territory holding their first virtual National Council Meeting

21 Nov 2020

I am pleased to share an account of an historic Extraordinary National Council Meeting of Section Ireland, convened for the purpose of ensuring the Rules of our section are adhered to during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the first time since the foundation of Section Ireland in 1955, that this particular provision has been invoked, and this time, to deal solely with the situation of grave importance foisted upon us by Covid-19, which is being experienced worldwide at present.  

Our Rules provide for holding of an Extraordinary National Council Meeting to deal with matters of “grave importance”, and have thankfully sat idle in our Rules and Schedules booklet for many years. It is not unreasonable to say, now in 2020, that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it a situation, where the National Executive Committee (NEC) had no option but to invoke those provisions.

The NEC agreed that the management of forthcoming Regional Congresses, Regional Elections, National Council 2020, and National Congress 2021 together with the scheduled election of NEC, Standing Orders Committee (S.O.C.), Internal Auditors (IA) and Honorary Life Membership (HLM) Committee all constituted matters of “grave importance” for our Association and this Section.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been designated a national crisis by the Irish government, and IPA Ireland accepts that we are morally and legally bound to adhere to governmental directives and Health Services Executive guidelines. At present, the law dictates that it would be unlawful to hold the type of physical meeting that we require for National Council. In addition to that, IPA Ireland could not countenance a situation, where our members would be called together by way of an open meeting and run the risk of members falling ill with Covid-19 as a result.

irconThe pandemic placed our section in a vedddddddry difficult and unprecedented position in respect of Regional Elections, which in themselves are a prerequisite for the completion of Regional Congresses 2020 and the holding of NEC elections in 2021. The NEC is at all times cognisant of the fact that our Rules and Schedules place obligations on us in respect of the management of this Section and the holding of Regional meetings, National Council, National Congress and the election of Regional Committees, National Executive Committee, S.O.C, IA and HLM Committees. Being unable to hold those because of the pandemic, the NEC turned to the Delegates of our Regions and asked for their support in suspending those obligations, which, through no fault of our own, we are unable to meet.

Such suspension will be temporary, with a specified end date and the provision built in, that the suspension will be reversed before such end-date if the Covid-19 situation should allow.

The NEC met by Zoom on 27 August 2020 and agreed that an Extraordinary National Council (ENC) Meeting be held under the provisions of our Rules. That ENC took place on 25 September 2020, to consider a motion proposed by the NEC, for a suspension for a period of not more than one year and ending no later than 25 September 2021 for the provisions relating to:

  • the 3-year term of office for the Immediate Past President,
  • the holding of a National Council Meeting each year and the National Congress every third year,
  • the requirements for Regional Meetings to be held quarterly, for a Regional AGM, and for a Regional Congress in October 2020.
  • the term of office for the NEC of 3 years, as well as for standing orders, Honorary Life Membership Committees, and Internal Auditors.

Notwithstanding a suspension, the NEC would be actively pursuing the holding of a National Council Meeting in April 2021, Covid-19 permitting. Because Regions are unable to hold Regional Congresses, this National Council cannot be designated a National Congress, therefore the motion also requested for the National Congress be moved to 2021. The proposed suspension would allow for that.

The National Executive Committee recommended this motion at the Extraordinary National Council Meeting, held via Zoom and attended by 55 Delegates representing our Regions.  Each Delegate was afforded an opportunity to comment, and the motion was passed unanimously on a vote by the Delegates and members of the NEC.

On behalf of the NEC of Section Ireland, I am very pleased with the great support given and the unwavering confidence shown in the current management of our Section by all of the Delegates, and I am very grateful to our Regions for the show of support and confidence.  

Yours in Friendship

Stay safe

Conor O’Higgins, President IPA Ireland