Difficult days for Carnacon Ladies GAA Club

Carnacon appeal to GAA president to intervene in saga

CARNACON Ladies GAA Club has issued a special plea to Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) president Marie Hickey to intervene in the dispute between their club and Mayo County Board over some of their players withdrawing from the county senior team, The Connaught Telegraph has learned.

A county board meeting last month suspended the Carnacon Ladies senior team from taking part in the county club senior championship and league for the remainder of the season. This would mean that Carnacon would be unable to defend their county, Connaught and All-Ireland senior titles this year.

An appeal to the Connacht Ladies GAA Council appeals committee regarding this sanction was successful last Thursday and it seemed as if this dispute was at an end and that all parties would move on from it.

However, a Mayo Ladies County Board meeting last night (Tuesday) decided by 30 votes to 3 to appeal the decision by the Connacht Ladies Appeal Committee to the full Ladies Connacht Council Board.

As a result, this saga is set to continue.

Prior to last night's county board meeting the Carnacon club was requested to send two delegates and one player to answer questions regarding the social welfare issues they had cited.

However, The Connaught Telegraph has learned the club had received legal advice not to attend this meeting and, as a result, forwarded a letter to the Mayo Ladies County Board secretary on Monday last, September 3, stating they would not be attending and the reasons why.

It stated: “Please be aware that neither a club delegate nor a player shall be in attendance before the County Board.

“The e-mail received by the club refers to player welfare issues and invokes the disciplinary jurisdiction of Rule 283. Insofar as the e-mail purports to be notice of disciplinary action, it constitutes no such thing.

“The e-mail fails to either identify the rule alleged to have been broken and it fails to identify the possible sanctions which may be imposed. A proper consideration of Rule 283 makes clear that notice of the alleged offence requires to be sent to the member and club charged.

“Your notice to the club fails to identify the names of any players subject to disciplinary proceedings and fails to identify the offence each player is alleged to have committed. The notice is defective in almost every regard.

“However, it is a significant commentary about the County Board and its conduct in this entire affair that the misapplication of Rule 283 is the least of its many failures,” the letter added.

Meanwhile, the letter to the LGFA president, Marie Hickey, in Croke Park, which has come into the possession of The Connaught Telegraph, stated: “We believe at this stage the LGFA needs to intervene in this dispute.

“The Mayo County Board has set itself on an entirely wrong-headed path and in so doing has ignored both the requirements of the LGFA rules and breached any number of the requirements of fair procedures in disciplinary matters.

“Primary among the failings is that every club in the county (not just the county board committee) has already adopted a position in this dispute. It is not conceivable that Carnacon can get a fair hearing at the proposed disciplinary meeting (last night).

“The County Board's conduct is making a mockery of the ladies game. We have legal advice which suggests that a legal challenge to the county board would be successful. Given that this is happening during the legal vacation, a High Court application would be required and costs would necessarily be much greater.

“The waste of time and money defending a disciplinary process, which has been flawed and pre-determined from the outset, would be enormous. The apparent inadequacy of the disciplinary provisions in the LGFA rule book would be ventilated as well.

“The other aspect of this dispute is the human one. The various players involved are, without exaggeration, under enormous pressure. Their crime was to raise concerns about player welfare issues.

“Those complaints have yet to be properly investigated by the county board. It is an outrageous dereliction of duty by the county board and an abuse of its role.

“From the LGFA's point of view it has an obligation to ensure that its players welfare is not jeopardised. In circumstances where the players can expect no vindication or protection from their County Board, there is only one body within the association to which they can turn.

“We strongly urge the LGFA to intervene to end this dispute.”