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Sunday 24 September 2017

O'Shea to press on with full legal challenge against GOAL board

Tim Healy and Nicola Anderson

LEGAL action by John O'Shea, the founder of aid agency GOAL, over what he claims was a concerted effort to remove him as chief executive, has been adjourned.

Earlier yesterday, it appeared that the dispute had been resolved, after the High Court heard that some "measure of agreement" had been reached between the two parties.

At that stage, a barrister for GOAL, Patrick Hanratty SC said he hoped they would "not have to trouble the courts again".

However, by lunchtime, it emerged that although a "mutually acceptable settlement" had been reached, this only concerned the temporary injunction granted to Mr O'Shea earlier this week.

That injunction prevented the charity from suspending him or taking action regarding his employment. It has now been lifted.

But Mr O'Shea, who did not attend yesterday's hearing, is proceeding with his action against the charity he founded 35 years ago. It is unclear what the nature of that case will be.

Papers regarding the full case to be taken by Mr O'Shea will be exchanged by the two legal teams on Tuesday.

His application for a separate injunction, pending the hearing of his full action against GOAL, has been adjourned until next Thursday.

Counsel for Mr O'Shea, Paul McGarry told the court that "certain discussions" had been fruitful but that he would be seeking a further order next Thursday for an interlocutory or semi-permanent injunction for the same purpose, pending the outcome of the hearing.

This interlocutory injunction is viewed as being the first leg in the case.

'Bullying'

After the brief hearing, a legal source confirmed that Mr O'Shea was still seeking a full hearing, despite the removal of the temporary injunction, saying: "Everything is still there."

Earlier this week, the court heard how some staff had complained about Mr O'Shea's behaviour and there were allegations about a culture of "institutionalised bullying" at GOAL.

Mr O'Shea denied these claims and described them as "false and concocted". But he feared an effort to suspend him might be made at a board meeting scheduled for last Tuesday.

The High Court heard that there was a "personality clash" between Mr O'Shea and Pat O'Mahony, who only took up his position as chairman of the board last December.

In the past year, GOAL has been rocked by a spate of resignations, with all but one board member quitting last September.

Efforts to contact Mr O'Shea were unsuccessful last night.

Irish Independent

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