O’Connor is Winter Olympian and has been Chair of the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s Athlete’s Commission as well as a member of the Sports leadership Group charged with moving on the National Sports Policy.
He has been prominent in both roles as a talented, approachable administrator and has used his background in IT and Risk Management to bring a sense of purpose to the Athlete’s Commission’s stance on anti-doping and other areas.
The board has also been strengthened by being elected as a group of nine, all of whom stood together and which includes Roddy Guiney, Chair of Wilson Hartnell and the Federation of Irish Sport, as well as Lynne Darcy, sponsorship, PR and Brand Manager for Electric Ireland.
At a time when Sporting Governance is front and centre stage Gymnastics Ireland has delivered on a three-year programme to entirely change its own approach to governance, during which time it has emerged as one of the strongest sports in the country
Governance reform has been at the top of the agenda for the Board which has been led by Ger Rellis for the last 12 years. In 2016 the members voted unanimously at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to radically change the governance structures and processes of the organisation to ensure Gymnastics Ireland was being governed in line with modern good governance practices.
This included changes to ensure the Board was structured to balance representation with competency, implement maximum term limits and introduce independent directors. Ger Rellis has overseen the transition towards this new status and will retain an involvement through chairing a new Governance Committee.
O’Connor does not have a background in gymnastics as a sport himself, but he was recently introduced to the organisation through his young daughter who is a member of Muckross Gymnastics Club and over the past number of years has attended many national competitions at the National Indoor Arena.
He will work closely with CEO Ciaran Gallagher, highly regarded across the realm of sports administration and will also help in the planning of a new Strategic Plan to follow on from the current cycle that draws to a close after the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.
The sport has been one of the undoubted success stories within Irish sport over recent years. Participation and performance metrics have been strong and improving year on year, capped by Rhys McClenaghan’s rise to become a live contender for medals at the next Olympics.
As a sport, it was the first to recognise the value of the Sport Ireland Campus and created a home for its high-performance centra but also a base from which to host positive National Championships and shows.
Others from within the sport that are part of the new Board include Mairead Kavanagh, Ireland’s first technical official appointed to a world gymnastics governing body, and multiple European and world medallist from Romania, Flavius Kozci.
“I’ve been a fan of Gymnastics Ireland as an organisation for the past number of years and have watched the impressive development of the sport with great interest,” said O’Connor.
“Through my recent role on the Olympic Federation of Ireland, I became more familiar with the sport following with great interest the recent successes of gymnasts such as Rhys McClenaghan and Emma Slevin, not to mention through my own daughter who is in love with the sport.”
“I also developed a further understanding of the organisation through the relationship built with CEO Ciaran Gallagher as a fellow OFI Board member.”
“I feel very honoured to be taking over the reins from Ger and look forward to building on the fantastic work he now hands over to me.”
“It’s a day of mixed emotions and pride for me,” added Rellis.
“As I step away as Chair of Gymnastics Ireland I am incredibly proud of the work and achievements of our members who make up such a great organisation. I am also incredibly happy to be handing over the reins as Chair to Shane as I have full confidence that he is the right candidate to take Gymnastics Ireland to the next level working alongside his fellow Board members and our CEO, Ciaran Gallagher and his staff team.”
“I would like to thank the other Board members with whom I have served as Chair and look forward to continuing to add value to the development of Gymnastics Ireland as an organisation as Chair of the governance committee.
“Gymnastics in Ireland has a very exciting future ahead of it and I will continue to be one of its biggest supporters.”
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Ger over these 12 years in developing Gymnastics Ireland,” said Ciaran Gallagher.
“When we both started off in this journey the organisation was in a very different position as to what it is now.”
“Ger steps down as a Chair of one of the largest Olympic sports in the country with over 33,000 members, a world-class base of operations at the Sport Ireland Campus and a sport that has broken through on the international stage with the performances of gymnasts such as Rhys McClenaghan and Emma Slevin.”
“I honestly do not think that without Ger Rellis we would be in the position we are in. He facilitated a cultural change at Board level that allowed our sport to develop and on a personal level as CEO has been nothing but supportive and a great mentor and friend for me.”
“I also would like to thank our other Board members who are stepping down, namely Marisa Duffy, Natasha Preston, Rob Fuller and Tom Dillon. These guys have worked tirelessly alongside Ger and have been just as crucial to the development of the organisation over the years.”
The Annual Report was also presented to the AGM and we will report on that on Sport for Business tomorrow morning.
Read More: Leading Sport – Ciaran Gallagher