High Court Reporters
A High Court dispute in which a couple claimed their four children had been barred from their local GAA club has been resolved.
The children of Sinead and Jason O'Farrell can forthwith continue to participate in their normal and regular activities at Fingallians GAA club, Swords, Co Dublin, the court heard.
As a result of this agreement, reached after a judge urged the parties to talk, the entire proceedings brought by Ms O'Farrelll, of Sandford Wood, Swords, on behalf of her four children, were struck out.
The court had been due to hear the O'Farrells' application for an injunction removing the alleged ban and the couple and their children Luca (10), Cai (8), Nia (6) and Alia (5).
The case was against a number of Fingallians officials, although the court heard there was a dispute over whether these individuals should be defendants with the club saying it should have been brought against the club trustees.
Ms O'Farrell had claimed a dispute arose over the approach of the then-head coach of the under-9 boys group following a tournament last year.
She claimed that as a result of that dispute, her husband and other adults whose children were part of the group, were fired as volunteer coaches of the under-9s in September.
On January 19th last, a letter was sent to the family by a senior club official asking them not to attend the club until a meeting took place between Mr O'Farrell and the club chairperson.
High Court proceedings followed.
The hearing of the injunction matter was due to take place on Friday before Mr Justice Brian Cregan who, having urged the parties continue with talks that had taken place earlier in the day, was later told the case had been settled.
Earlier, Richard Kean SC, for the O'Farrells, said the case was fundamentally about the children being punished over a dispute involving adults. The last place the family wanted to be was in court but they had to do so because the club would not promise to allow the children back in the same groups as they had been in before the dispute, he said.
What the club had suggested was that the children go back but not be among their friends and classmates, he said.
There had been "massive prevarication" about a simple request to allow the children back, he said.
It was now suggested by the club the matter should be dealt with through the GAA alternative disputes resolution process, but that would not address what the O'Farrells sought as it only deals with rule breaches, he said. It would also cost them €1,000 to participate in that process.
Ms O'Farrell had also been threatened that they could face court costs orders if they did not withdraw the case, he said.
Micheál Ó Scanaill SC, for the defendants, said his side had in open correspondence, and in statements when the case was earlier in court, stated that the O'Farrells were welcome back to participate in their own age groups.
Counsel said the letter of January 9th was being misread or misunderstood by the O'Farrells because it was only a temporary suggestion until the club chairman met with Mr O'Farrell to discuss matters.
That letter has been withdrawn and superseded by another letter on February 8th stating that the children were welcome back under the same conditions they had enjoyed before, he said.
The children continued to receive invitations to events at the club, but the parents were choosing not to bring them, he said.
The judge said it seemed to him there was not much now between the parties in terms of restoring the children to their activities, and he urged the parties, who had begun talks earlier in the day, to continue talking through lunchtime.
When the case resumed, the judge was told it had been settled and could be struck out. The judge said he was glad the parties had settled what was a difficult and sensitive matter.