Inishowen Tourism to hold ‘Special General Meeting’ to implement key governance recommendations

Inishowen Tourism to hold ‘Special General Meeting’ to implement key governance recommendations

Inishowen Tourism is to hold a Special General Meeting next week to implement a key recommendation of the Crowe Howarth report into governance at the not-for-profit community organisation.

All shareholders have been contacted about the meeting – being held at 7.30pm in the Malin Hotel on Tuesday next – highlighting its importance

Speaking to the Inish Times a member of the Committee of Management said it was “extremely important” as many shareholders as possible attended the meeting

The spokesperson added: “The current rules state that a quarter of the membership must be present to effect a change to those rules.

“If carried, the proposal will reduce the quorum required for valid general meetings of the group from 126 to 50 and overcome a persistent problem with achieving the higher number, which has proved to be increasingly difficult over the past number of years and led ultimately to the current crisis with funding.

“A review of governance at Inishowen Tourism Co-operative Society (ITS) was carried out toward the end of 2016.

“The resulting report made 22 recommendations and was accepted in principle by the Committee of Management as a valuable roadmap towards enhancing the governance and organisational structures of Inishowen Tourism.

“The Committee had reservations about the practicalities of implementing of some recommendations. In particular, the volume of work, the costs and resources involved, and the affordability for the organisation of successfully achieving the outcomes aspired to in the report.

“It also had concerns over the short timeframe for implementation imposed by Pobal, which funds  the organisation through a Community Services Programme (CSP).

“Since then the Committee has been actively working towards a resolution of the issues outlined in the report, begun implementing recommendations, where rule changes are not a prerequisite, and adopting ‘as good practice’ and by agreement, those which require changing the rules.

“The report recognises that the operation of ITS must be governed by the ‘Rules of Society’, as currently constituted, and that formal amendment of the rules, at an SGM, is a critical requirement.

“In April 2017 ITS submitted a Governance Enhancement Plan to Pobal addressing all the issues raised in the report. However, the Committee were informed on May 9th that due to insufficient progress in implementing the recommendations of the report, funding to Inishowen Tourism towards the employment of staff would cease at 30th June 2017.

“The Department of Social Protection, which funds the CSP, undertook however to maintain funding for the service in Inishowen and in the short term seek to have it delivered through another organisation with which they have an ongoing relationship.

“It is envisaged that delivery of the service, in the longer term, would be via an organisation meeting current governance requirements, and the board of which, is representative of the entire peninsula, has adequate gender balance and the requisite skills experience and qualifications to carry out this task.

“The Committee has prioritised the passing of this resolution as a key first step in maintaining the service and jobs of employees and ensuring that a smooth transition to the delivery of the tourism development and information services by an alternative organisation.

“The AGM, which will follow immediately afterwards, provides an opportunity to address some of the issues highlighted in the Crowe Howarth report; by broadening the representation both geographically and sectorally, addressing the gender balance deficit and adding to the skills set of the Committee of Management.

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“Forms of nomination for election to the Committee have been included with the agenda and notice of meeting. Nominations must be in writing, signed by two members of the Society and the nominee, and sent to Raymond Doherty, Board Secretary, Inishowen Tourism Society Ltd, Carndonagh Public Services Centre no later than three days before the date of the AGM.

“Since the withdrawal of CSP funding, ITS has been meeting payroll costs from its own resources in an effort to maintain the service while awaiting the setting up an alternative arrangement by Pobal.

“Unfortunately, the staff have been placed on protective notice, as this situation cannot be sustained indefinitely.  It is the intention of the Committee to honour current commitments to staff, trade members and other stakeholders. The ongoing support of Fáilte Ireland and Donegal County Council is particularly welcome at this difficult time.

“Inishowen Tourism was established by Inishowen Rural Development Company in 1989 and has helped to put Inishowen on the international tourism map. Providing tourism and development support services at the Fáilte Ireland office in Buncrana and Carndonagh Public Services Centre, ITS assists trade members by attracting visitors to and servicing their needs in Inishowen.  Following the decline of traditional industries such as farming and fishing and the demise of Fruit of the Loom, tourism offers one of few potential growth areas for the post Brexit era.

“The peninsula is well placed to capitalise on success of the Wild Atlantic Way and the launch of Star Wars ‘The Last Jedi’  due for release on 15th December 2017, and the hosting of the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the Ballyliffin Glashsedy Links in July 2018.   More operators are also prepared to invest in their enterprises and it seems that we’re approaching a watershed moment in tourism development in the peninsula.

ITS staff have engaged with trade members to a point where 125 have committed to IT for 2017, all trade members are listed in the 2017 Visitor Guide, 15,0000 copies of this Guide have been circulated throughout the peninsula and the North West.

“A number of events including, FAM trips, information evenings and trade visits have taken place, informing travel writers, and service providers about the hidden gems of Inishowen.  Staff promoted the peninsula at holiday world shows in Belfast and Dublin with over 70,000 visitors in attendance. During 2016, 7,500 tourist visited tourist information offices in Buncrana and Carndonagh, all being signposted to tourism businesses in Inishowen.

“A member of staff has recently attended a Star Wars Convention in Orlando with over 50,000 Star Wars fans in attendance. This was done in conjunction with Tourism Ireland and has created huge interest in Inishowen among star wars fans internationally.

“It is unfortunate that the peninsula faces a potential gap in the delivery of tourism support services at such a critical time. The Committee appeals to every available member to make an effort to attend these important meetings and consider serving on the Committee of Management. Come out on the 25th July and help shape the future of tourism in Inishowen.”

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