Former county manager appointed to top Inland Fisheries Ireland post

FORMER Donegal County Council Chief Executive Séamus Neely has been handed a senior role within Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Mr Neely was appointed after Environment Minister Eamon Ryan removed the three remaining members of the IFI board on a no-fault basis.

He has asked Séamus Neely and former Carlow County Council chief Tom Barry to perform the functions of the agency which protects fish stocks and habitats.


The IFI has been in disarray over the past year.

Five members of its board resigned as the body experienced a series of internal disputes and allegations, some of which have been made by way of protected disclosure.

The three remaining non-executive board members were unable to make a number of key decisions due to insufficient numbers.

Mr Ryan informed the Cabinet on Tuesday that because of the five resignations, including that of chair Professor Frances Lucey, the IFI was unable to carry out its functions effectively.

He said he had removed the remaining members on a no-fault basis using powers under the Inland Fisheries Act.

He thanked the outgoing members for their service.

The Minister said he wanted the IFI to be in a position to perform its functions as quickly as possible and, to that end, he had appointed Tom Barry and Séamus Neely to carry out the role in advance of a process to appoint a new board.


Minister Ryan has instructed Mr Barry and Mr Neely to prioritise consideration of a number of protected disclosures which are understood to have been received by IFI in recent months.

Mr Barry and Mr Neely will also be authorised to take any follow-up actions that may arise from the protected disclosures processes.

Mr Ryan also instructed Mr Barry and Mr Neely to oversee the preparation of a governance review of IFI to be delivered within three to six months.

The body has been hit by a series of complaints and controversies over the past two years.

It was discovered that 16 of its vehicles were uninsured and one was involved in a crash in Donegal in 2021. An IFI-owned property, Aasleagh House at Killary Fjord in Co Mayo, was leased informally to a staff member and run as a guest house without the knowledge of the board.

There was also a complaint that funding from dormant accounts was allocated to an angling club, which did not have a bank account, and which some claimed did not exist.

A number of new issues and complaints are also facing the body.

One issue includes a dispute surrounding the dismissal of an employee last year.

In addition a protected disclosure has been made to the Department of the Environment alleging irregularities in the processes for an internal appointments competition. The department has initiated a formal investigation into that matter.

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