Sunday 4 December 2016

Teen skater must pay for failed bid to secure place on Irish national team

Tim Healy

Published 16/11/2016 | 02:30

Ice skater Fianait Bligh. Inset Fianait competing
Ice skater Fianait Bligh. Inset Fianait competing

A figure skater must pay the costs of her failed legal action to make the sport's governing body select her for international events.

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In July 2015, Fianait Bligh (19) sought High Court orders compelling the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) to comply with representations allegedly made to her.

She claimed they stated if she fulfilled certain criteria, she would be selected to take part in International Skating Union events.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan dismissed her application and ruled Ms Bligh had failed to make out a case entitling her to the orders sought.

Ms Bligh, originally from Dublin but who has been training in Scotland and Canada, claimed she was being discriminated against.

The ISAI denied her allegations. It said, while Ms Bligh had been picked for the Irish development squad, that did not mean she was entitled to orders requiring she be selected for the national team.

The matter returned before the judge yesterday when Barrister David Dodd, for the ISAI, said it was seeking an order for its legal costs against her.

Counsel said following the court's ruling, Ms Bligh's case had been heard by Just Sport Ireland (JSI), an independent dispute resolution service for Irish sport.

The arbitrator who heard the matter had rejected all of Ms Bligh's allegations against members of ISAI, counsel said.

Counsel said the offer to go to the JSI was made to Ms Bligh before the case was heard by the High Court.

However she had opted to go ahead with the injunction application, which was refused. In all the circumstances, counsel said the association was entitled to its costs.

Mr Justice Gilligan awarded the costs of the application for the injunction in favour of the ISAI.

He said there had to be "obvious sympathy" for Ms Bligh, given her age.

However, she made the decision, with the advice of lawyers, to go ahead with the court case.

He also urged the parties to "get on with the sport".

Irish Independent

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