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Joint statement issued by FAI and Sport Ireland

New group to set out FAI roadmap for change

The Football Association of Ireland and Sport Ireland have established a Governance Review Group to develop reform proposals for the FAI. 

The group met today and set out milestones to bring about change ahead of and following the Association’s AGM in Trim in July.

The make-up of the new Group has been finalised with independent chairman Aidan Horan joined by Sport Ireland nominees Dr Moling Ryan and Joe O’Leary and FAI nominees Niamh O’Donoghue and Rea Walshe.

Welcoming the appointment of the Governance Review Group, FAI President Donal Conway said: “The Board of the Football Association of Ireland is committed to change and today is an important day for the FAI as we take the first steps forward.

“We are determined to rebuild the Association and ensure that we are fit for purpose as a modern and dynamic governing body for the biggest sport in the country. Working closely with UEFA and Sport Ireland, we are committed to delivering on our promise to reform the FAI and we believe this Governance Review Group can establish the foundation for change before the Board resigns at the AGM in July.”

Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy added: “Sport Ireland welcomes the establishment of the Governance Review Group chaired by independent governance expert Aidan Horan. Alongside Aidan Horan, Sport Ireland has also nominated independent experts (Dr. Moling Ryan and Joe O’Leary) who bring huge experience in governance, finance and change management. The work of the Governance Review Group is vitally important to the FAI progressing on its corporate governance reform agenda.

“I am confident that the Group will deliver ambitious reform proposals, which will be based on good governance practice and which will comply with UEFA policy.”

The terms of reference for the new governance Group were agreed by the FAI and Sport Ireland.

The terms of reference include:

1. Reviewing the existing governance arrangements within the FAI and proposing a governance framework for the FAI in the context of good governance principles and practice.

2. Supporting the Board and the organisation in achieving and observing good governance practice.

3. Considering the organisation’s compliance with the Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland (2016), and other relevant Codes of good governance principles, norms and standards including those of UEFA and FIFA.

Specifically the Group  will advise on board composition, board member / director nomination, election/appointment, term limits and succession planning, including through the development of a skills, knowledge, experience and diversity matrix for the Board.

4. In carrying out its work the Group will seek submissions and relevant input, where required and deemed appropriate by this group, from affiliates and members of the FAI and other stakeholders. It will also consult with wider stakeholders including UEFA and FIFA.

5. The Group will report to both Sport Ireland and the FAI Board. The FAI Board will in turn liaise with UEFA to ensure any proposed changes are in line with UEFA policy and practice on governance.

The Group has agreed a timeline as follows:

1. Mindful of the FAI requirement to urgently progress governance reforms, including giving its members notice of proposed changes to the FAI rules in advance of its Annual General Meeting on 27th July 2019, the group will endeavour to complete its work, as outlined in the terms of reference by 14th June 2019, at which stage it is envisaged that a draft report will have issued to both the FAI Board and Sport Ireland.

2. Following review and feedback by both the FAI and Sport Ireland, the Group envisages the report being completed no later than 21st June 2019.


Aidan Horan is a director at the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) with overall responsibility for governance and assurance services. A qualified accountant, he is leader of the governance specialist team at the Institute and is the founder member of the Governance Forum at the IPA. The spectrum of governance services provided by the Institute incorporates training, consultancy, advisory and supports for client organisations, boards, committees, chief executives and senior managers.

The services focus on a wide range of governance areas including; roles and responsibilities; board and executive best practice; risk management systems; guidance on audit and assurance arrangements, financial and performance reporting and financial management systems, control effectiveness, governance and compliance reviews.

Aidan has also been nominated to a number of non-executive roles over recent years including as Audit Committee Chairperson, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. He is also a member of the Standards and Financial Reporting Board of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy [CIPFA] (UK).

Joe O’Leary is a Partner in BMOL Partners, Chartered Accountants, 19 Herbert Street, Dublin 2. A Certified Accountant by qualification, he started his business career in Bank of Ireland where he worked primarily in the Financial Control and Corporate Banking areas until 2002 when he left the bank to set up BMOL Partners.

His area of responsibility in the firm is in Corporate Finance and Business Advisory with significant involvement and experience in the areas of debt and equity financing and financial planning. In more recent years his team has focused extensively on financial restructuring and debt management, working with both borrowers and lenders to achieve a consensual resolution in distressed situations. The firm was selected onto various NAMA panels on a number of occasions to provide support and advisory services in the conduct of its business.

Dr. Moling Ryan is a management consultant. He served as Chief Executive of the Legal Aid Board for 10 years up to 2014. More recently he served as Interim Director and Chief Executive of the Irish Museum of Modern Art for a period of 15 months up to March 2019. He was also Director of Human Resources and Change Management in the Courts Service for 5 years and has previously worked in a number of Government Departments in both policy and operational areas.

Moling has a Doctorate in Governance from Queens University, Belfast. He also has Primary and Masters degrees in Management and is a qualified barrister. He is a member of the Policing Authority and serves on a number of Finance, Audit and Risk Committees. 

Niamh O’Donoghue has been involved as a volunteer in football administration since the early 1980’s. She became the chair of the Ladies Football Association of Ireland (later WFAI) in the late 1980’s and was appointed to the FAI National Council in 1991 when the LFAI achieved formal recognition from the FAI. She was the first woman to be appointed to the FAI Council and the FAI Board to which she was appointed in July 2017.

In her professional life, Niamh currently works as an independent management consultant having retired from the position of Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection in July 2017 after serving in that role for seven years. As a career civil servant, she served in a number of different civil service Departments and offices over the course of her career.

She has a primary degree in Public Administration from the IPA, and also holds an MA (Industrial Relations) (University of Keele) and an MSc (Mgmt) from TCD.

Rea is the Interim CEO of the Football Association of Ireland having previously served the FAI as Director of Corporate Affairs and Licencing and Head of Legal and Licensing. Holder of an honours degree in law from UCC, she joined the Board of the Federation of Irish Sport as Director and Company Secretary in 2017.

Rea is Company Secretary of the FAI and the Chair of the Governance and Risk Committee and has received a distinction on the UEFA Football Law programme and is currently undertaking a Masters in European Sports Governance. 

For the full terms of reference, click below:

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