The Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) has been informed by several of its federations that they may “withhold” annual fees, due to be paid in January, because of unanswered questions around “governance”.

The ICA which is a registered charity, claims to be the largest women’s association in Ireland, with an estimated 6,000 members.

The ICA has 27 county committees, know as federations, who in turn have a number of guilds associated with them. Each guild is autonomous and in total there are in the region of 440 guilds throughout the country.

ICA’s stated key aims are to “provide a welcoming and fun organisation which offers support, friendship, personal development, education and life long learning”.

ICA’s National Executive Board

Agriland understands that certain guilds have informed their federations that some members believe there is a “lack of information” coming from the ICA’s National Executive Board (NEB) over “governance” issues that have been raised.

In particular some members have appealed to the ICA’s hierarchy to explain why three women were removed from the NEB last October.

It is understood the three women were not provided with a specific reason for their removal from ICA’s NEB and have sought an explanation for this.

Last week a number of ICA members held a protest outside the organisation’s central office in Ballsbridge in Co. Dublin in a bid to highlight their concerns.

According to one ICA member a number of guilds have informed their respective federations that they feel members are “being kept in the dark” about issues that could impact on the organisation’s future.

ICA’s future direction

The member said that some guilds want the ICA’s NEB to “clear the air” and to organise an “open meeting” where they can directly address the concerns of ICA members and “provide answers to questions”.

One ICA guild member also told Agriland that she fears some members could walk away from the organisation unless its leadership is more “forthcoming” and that some women may not renew their membership while there is any “uncertainty” about the ICA’s future direction.