On 10 February 2015, the claimants, and specifically QUBGFC, served notice of an intention to apply to the DRA for interim relief on foot of suspensions applied to named players and management on the claimants’ Sigerson Cup panel. What follows is summary only of the application. It is for informational purposes only and it is without prejudice to any subsequent full hearing on this matter.
The suspensions imposed on the claimants related originally to a Disciplinary Notice served on the claimants by Comhairle Ardoideachais CCC in the wake of a Sigerson Cup Round 1 game between the claimants and Maynooth University on 26 January. The Disciplinary Notice contained notice of alleged infractions by the claimants in playing a number of ineligible players in the game v Maynooth. The charges were, in effect, that certain named students, all attending Stranmillis College, ought to be considered as ineligible to play for the claimants (“the Stranmillis issue”). The Disciplinary Notice proposed, among other matters, that the players in question be suspended for 12 weeks and that suspensions also be imposed on the Chair and Secretary of QUBGFC and on the manager of the Sigerson team.
On Friday afternoon 5 February, the claimants requested personal hearings before the Central Hearings Committee. This was duly arranged for noon on 6 February. The Stranmillis issue was decide in favour of the claimants but as a number of the individuals involved – including a player and the manager of the Sigerson team, had not personally attended the hearing, the CHC held that, as per Rule 7.3(y) of the Official Guide 2015, and in the absence of a reasonable explanation for the non-attendance, the original penalty remained in place.
That specific matter was then appealed unsuccessfully to the Central Appeals Committee who sat on the evening of Tuesday 9 February.
On Wed 10 Feb, the claimant served notice of an intention to apply to the DRA. A full DRA Panel was arranged for Friday 12 Feb but as the claimant was set to play in the quarter final of the Sigerson Cup v UL at 2pm in Limerick on the following day, and thus less than 24 hours from their notice of application, they were given the option of applying for interim relief as per sections 7 and 8 of the DRA Code. The interim relief sought was that the suspensions be lifted or stayed pending the full DRA hearing and thus permitting the players and manager to take a full part in the UL game.
As the current Secretary of the DRA had a conflict of interest – being a graduate and staff member at one point of both UL and QUB – he stepped aside and Mr John Callinan, Callinan Keane Solicitors in Clare, and a long standing member of the DRA, was appointed to hear the matter. Although all parties stated that they could if needed make themselves available for an oral hearing on either the evening of Wed 10 Feb or morning of 11 Feb, they equally gave their consent that the matter could be dealt with on a “paper only” basis. Papers from all parties were duly filed with Mr Callinan at 9pm on Wed 10 Feb and by 11am on the morning of 11 Feb he had provided a written response, refusing relief. An extract from that written response is below. The full award on the refusal to grant interim relief will be published on the DRA website in due course.
“[Having considered the DRA code and the law on applications for interim relief] I am satisfied from such consideration that the Claimants’ Application for Interim Relief must be refused. The Claimants do not stand suspended for the original alleged infraction rather for their failure to attend the hearing and the inadequacies of the reasons for failing to do so. There was in my opinion no breach of Fair Procedures by the Hearings Committee or by the CAC.
I do not believe that the Claimant have established a Prima Facie case and consequently their case is not sufficiently strong so that to refuse an Injunction would constitute an injustice. I have looked at the implications of a decision to grant relief. At least one other innocent party could be affected by a decision to grant Interim Relief, which Interim Relief may cause an injustice if, ultimately at a full hearing, the suspensions’ are found to have been incorrectly imposed.”
Seán Mac Aindriú
Rúnaí, An Córas Eadrána