The Irish Rare Birds Committee would like to take this opportunity to announce that Jim Fitzharris and Killian Mullarney are stepping down from the Committee.

Jim has served on the Committee since its beginnings in 1985 and previous to that, as Secretary of the Irish Records Panel, since 1977. Having initially served on the IRBC as a voting member until the early 1990s and latterly as non-voting Chairman, Jim's lengthy service to rare bird recording in Ireland is unequalled and in that time he has helped shape the development of rarity assessment and recording, while retaining the best practices set by the previous generation. As Chairman, his wisdom and clarity of thought has helped the Committee through many challenging and, at times controversial, decisions. Jim was the 'face' of the IRBC to many observers and his highly developed communications skills have articulated the Committee's position on many complex issues with a precision that few could match. He was the driving force behind the Checklist of the Birds of Ireland, which remains the baseline against which all contemporary Irish bird recording is made.

Killian has served on both the IRBC and its predecessor, the Irish Records Panel, for over 28 years. His depth of knowledge is without parallel in this country as well as being internationally recognised. Killian joined the IRP at a time when an "old school" approach to bird identification was still very much the norm. His association with identification luminaries such as the late Peter Grant, Lars Jonsson, Jon Dunn, Dick Forsman and others in Europe and North America saw the development of a new approach to bird identification and Killian played a pivotal role in ensuring that these higher standards applied in the Irish scene. While Killian's work on behalf of the IRBC was often conducted in the background, his dedication to excellence in all aspects of the Committee's work has benefited many although perhaps only those working closely with him on the Committee can fully appreciate the time, effort and commitment that he has applied to the role. We would like to express our gratitude to Killian and we hope that we can continue to tap into his considerable expertise in the future.

With the departure of Killian and Jim, we are pleased to announce the appointment of two able replacements: Dick Coombes and Michael O'Keeffe have accepted invitations to join the Committee as voting members. Both will be well-known to Irish birders for their ability in the field and their keen interest in bird identification. In addition to his constant birding activities at home and abroad, Dick has acquired many years of experience in the field in a professional capacity, as national co-ordinator of the population monitoring scheme, the Countryside Bird Survey. He has developed a very popular field course which he runs annually on Cape Clear Island in conjunction with CCBO, while his co-editorship of the East Coast Bird Report will no doubt be an advantage when it comes to the collective effort of IRBC members in preparing the Irish Rare Bird Report.

Originating from the Kingdom of Kerry, and now based in Cork, Michael O' Keeffe has taken full advantage of his proximity to some of the most exciting birding locations in the country. With a critical eye for detail and a keen interest in seeing that high standards are applied to the identification of rarities, we are confident that Michael will bring a vital dynamic to the work of the Committee in the future. Michael has travelled extensively in pursuit of birds and has always had a keen interest in bird identification. For some years he worked in a busy photographic laboratory where he gained considerable insight into the processes involved in producing digital images which are, as we all know, an increasingly important aspect of the modern birding scene. Currently working in the highly regulatory field of Environment, Health and Safety, Michael is very familiar with the application of critical analysis and standards. These are useful transferable skills which Michael brings with him to the committee.

We believe that the dedication and experience both Dick and Michael bring to the Committee will serve it very well in the future.

The Irish Rare Birds Committee is delighted to announce that Joe Hobbs has accepted an invitation to join the Committee in the capacity of Webmaster. As a non-voting member, Joe's focus will be on developing a new and upgraded website for the Committee, and ongoing management of our internet presence; a task he has embarked on immediately with characteristic enthusiasm and efficiency. Many of you will know Joe from extended periods birding on Cape Clear and for his participation in bird races and other events, but he also brings additional skills to the Committee. Quite apart from his website development capabilities, Joe also combines a keen eye for detail with an extensive knowledge of Irish bird records, dates and lists, all of which are very valuable assets to us as we accelerate our compilation and publishing of the Irish Rare Bird Report and embark on a new project with BirdWatch Ireland to update the Irish Checklist.

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