Dear Secretaries,
Please forward this important communication to all of your members.

Following a meeting of the FIBKA Executive Council on 11th November, we would like to update affiliated Associations regarding the following matters:

Congress 2017
The Executive Council would like to express our sincere regret for the confusion and upset which has followed the recent 2017 FIBKA Congress.

In order to resolve any residual issues or feelings of distress which may be remaining among our members, the Executive Council would like to invite all our Affiliated Associations to consider how matters can best be rectified, consistent with our FIBKA Constitution. We are most anxious to bring about reconciliation wherever this may be needed.

We are committed to a process of continuous improvement as we respond to the changing needs of members. Much of the discussion and work in this regard is invisible to the average member at Association level, and we accept that we could do a better job in consulting with Associations to achieve a greater sense of engagement and ownership. Further review of our Constitution is one of several options to be explored on an ongoing basis: for instance in addressing the perception of a lack of full accountability by the Executive, and putting in place mechanisms to prevent or address conduct unbecoming any member of FIBKA.

To assist all Associations in considering these matters, we are tentatively offering some suggestions about how we can facilitate the healing process:

First, we must make it clear that all the letters which have been sent to our Secretary, Tom Shaw, have been fully considered by all members of the Executive Council and that the Secretary has answered all of them.

We feel that there are several choices open to our organization to resolve any residual matters, and that these choices could include:

Suggested Alternatives

  • Special Meeting of Congress, as per Article 12 of the Constitution;
  • Congress 2018 might be called early (spring 2018), again with due regard to the timescale required by the Constitution;
  • Executive Council members seek a mandate from Associations in some other way, and we emphasise that we strongly encourage ‘new blood’ to come onto the Executive Council;
  • A Forum meeting for discussion of the residual issues could be called for members to present questions and views;
  • A ‘Show and Tell’ meeting at which all the FIBKA accounts would be available again for members to question. Other FIBKA Officers could also attend to answer questions in relation to their own areas of responsibility if requested. Meanwhile, the Treasurer continues to invite email queries on the 2016 accounts to treasurer@irishbeekeeping.ie;
  • Suggestions from our members for other avenues would be most welcome.


The Executive Council is aware that a large majority of Associations do not share the issues which have disturbed the conduct of Congress 2017, but we would welcome all members’ views about how the healing process may best be facilitated. All the members of the Executive Council have agreed that this letter should be sent and we all remain hopeful of a complete resolution of all the questions which remain.

Please send your preferences among the choices outlined in this letter, or your suggestions, to our Secretary, Tom Shaw, before 1st December 2017, so that your views may be fully considered by the Executive Council at its next meeting on 9th December.

Current Executive Council members
Since Congress 2017, two members of the Executive Council (Ben Harden and Jim Carroll) have resigned, citing personal reasons. All other members remain in office, with the addition of two co-opted members: Joanna McGlaughlin of Armagh-Monaghan BKA (who will act as Membership Secretary) and Graham Hall of Co. Dublin BKA.

Claims regarding the calling of a Special meeting of Congress
There appears to be a widespread perception that a request from a large number of affiliated Associations for a Special Meeting of Congress has been ignored by the Executive. However, the FIBKA Secretary has not received requests from the Secretaries of at least five Associations (collectively or separately), in line with Article 12 of the Constitution. This is not mere semantics. In order for such a meeting to be valid, Article 12 must be complied with. Emails or social media posts claiming the support of a list of Associations for a particular course of action does not constitute a proper request for a Special Meeting of Congress. If Article 12 is properly invoked, there is no question but that a Special Meeting of
Congress will be facilitated.

IBA CLG
Secretaries and others will be aware of the formation of a company known as IBA CLG, having received emails circulated by that company, soliciting memberships from individuals and Associations currently affiliated to FIBKA.

One of the membership options offered by the company is: "Dual membership. Should you wish to affiliate with IBA CLG, but remain a member of another umbrella body, the membership fee will be €10. As a dual member you will not be offered covered (sic) under our insurance policy...."

Please be advised that FIBKA has not entered into any arrangement with the company to facilitate this. We will not be disclosing our list of members to the company for the purposes of validating "dual membership", or for any other reason.

We respectfully suggest that individuals who feel that any other organisation better represents their needs, should join that organisation as full members. As the company styles itself an "alternative to FIBKA" and one of its stated aims "never promote one type of bee ahead of another" is at variance with one of FIBKAs objects "To promote the conservation of the native dark bee, Apis mellifera mellifera", we think it unlikely that many FIBKA members will choose to be full members of both organisations. However, as far as FIBKA is concerned, there is no prohibition to full membership of both bodies. Associations affiliated
to FIBKA will continue to accept members as they see fit. But in accordance with Article 20 of the FIBKA Constitution "All Associations must affiliate all their members", Associations affiliated to FIBKA may not accept members who refuse to be affiliated to FIBKA.

Clarification for FIBKA members
Services to members
FIBKA is an organisation set up to promote and serve the interests of its affiliated members.
Our activities are classed as "mutual trading" (as determined by Revenue), meaning that we trade with / provide services to members only. See https://www.revenue.ie/en/taxprofessionals/tdm/income-tax-capital-gains-tax-corporation-tax/part-36/36-00-05.pdf
"if dealings take place with any outside body profits from such activities would be liable to tax as the income is not derived from its mutual activities."
Therefore, services provided by FIBKA cannot be extended to non-members without attracting a tax liability on the income derived from those services. This means that we must enforce the policy that only FIBKA affiliated members can avail of FIBKA services, including inter alia: attendance at the Summer Course (whether residential or day visitor); subscription to An Beachaire; participation in the Education / Exam system; entry into classes in official FIBKA honey shows or other honey shows which award FIBKA prize cards and/or are financially supported by FIBKA; attendance at lectures to affiliated Associations where
these are financially supported by FIBKA.

Only CFLs, BeeMasters and Honey Judges who are themselves affiliated members of FIBKA will be entitled to claim travel expenses in relation to lectures, demonstrations, or workshops given to FIBKA affiliated Associations. As has been the case in the past, FIBKA CFLs, BeeMasters and Honey Judges are entitled to provide services to groups outside of FIBKA and to seek full remuneration from them, but they must also be fully indemnified by that group’s insurance.

Insurance
We understand that IBA CLG has insurance in place for its members. We are unaware of the extent of such insurance cover, or the identity of the provider.
As you know, FIBKA has recently upgraded its insurance cover to the most comprehensive in our history. There are some as yet unknown insurance implications regarding members who might concurrently join both FIBKA and any other body offering insurance. Article 8 General Terms and Conditions of FIBKA insurance policy states with regard to
Other Insurance:
"We will not make any payment under this policy where you would be entitled to be paid under any other insurance if this policy did not exist except in respect of any amount in excess of the amount that would have been payable under such other insurance had this policy not been effected. If such other insurance is provided by us the most we will pay under this policy will be reduced by the amount payable under such other insurance." We have begun consultation with our insurance broker on a number of issues: Ethically, should a single insurer knowingly accept double payment for a single insured person under two different policies?
In the event of a claim being made in respect of activities covered by FIBKA insurance policy and the policy of the second organisation, which policy will be sued, and if the claim is successful, how will the expenses incurred be divided between the two insured bodies?
In the event that a successful claim is made in respect of activities deemed to be covered by FIBKA insurance policy but not by the policy of the second organisation, which policy will take precedence? How do we deal with the fact that FIBKA members insurance could unwittingly be propping up the insurance cover provided by another organisation?

Collegiality amongst the beekeepers of Ireland
As an Executive, we have been dismayed at the defamatory statements made against us, both collectively and as individuals, in emails and on social media, by some Directors of IBA CLG.
We are also disappointed with the manner in which that company has attempted to poach members and Associations affiliated to FIBKA. Not withstanding those reservations, the FIBKA Executive takes the view that the beekeeping community of Ireland is small and has hitherto been reasonably friendly, even when
differences of opinion are very strongly held and defended. We believe that beekeepers must be united in our efforts to promote our craft for the benefit
of the bees and beekeepers of Ireland. It would be a shame if beekeeping friends in Associations around the country were to fall out as a result of recent developments. Therefore, we intend to take a "live and let live" approach, whilst at the same time rigorously protecting the interests of our paid-up members. Any beekeeper who joins an alternative organisation is welcome to return to FIBKA membership at any time in the future, if accepted for membership by a FIBKA affiliated Association.

Yours sincerely,
Gerry Ryan (President)
Stuart Hayes (Vice-President)
Michael Woulfe (Life Vice-President)
Peter O'Reilly (Life Vice-President)
Tom Shaw (Secretary)
Maria Tobin (Treasurer)
Mary Montaut (Editor, An Beachaire)
Dermot O'Flaherty (Manager, An Beachaire)
Michael Maunsell (Education Officer)
Paul O'Brien (PRO)
Eleanor Attridge (Bee Health Officer)
Michael Gleeson (Summer Course Convenor)
Joanna McGlaughlin (Membership Secretary)
Eamon Magee
John Donoghue
Liam Rice
Jim Ryan
Eamon Tubman
Sean Byrne
John Gillespie
Walter Jones
Graham Hall

PDF copy of the letter

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