Saturday 1 October 2016

REVEALED: Diarmuid Connolly claimed Lee Keegan 'choked' him and DRA decision was not unanimous

Published 21/09/2015 | 16:54

Diarmuid Connolly after being sent off for striking Lee Keegan in last Sunday’s drawn semi-final
Diarmuid Connolly after being sent off for striking Lee Keegan in last Sunday’s drawn semi-final

Diarmuid Connolly had his red card from the drawn All-Ireland semi-final rescinded by a 2-1 majority of the DRA tribunal and it was only the second time in the history of the GAA that the DRA panel had not been unanimous.

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Details of the DRA judgement, from former Supreme Court judge Hugh O’Flaherty, along with solicitors David Nohilly and Brian Rennick, were released today and in it they reveal that Connolly had claimed in his evidence that he had been 'choked' by Mayo's Lee Keegan before he made his striking action.

The verdict reveals that Dublin manager Jim Gavin and Diarmuid Connolly argued that he had been acting in self defence and that this defence had been rejected by the CAC because 'there is no such Rule in the Official Guide'.

On this subject, the DRA said: "It is curious that this was the finding reached as one would have assumed the proper finding should have been the jurisdictional one i.e. this was an issue not raised before the CHC.

"In any sense, we do not agree with the proposition that a player is not entitled to defend oneself. The Claimant gave evidence to this Tribunal of being ‘choked’ etc., at the time of the altercation. Whilst that may or may not have been case is not for us to decide, but to say no such defence exists absolutely is not correct in our opinion. We shall go no further on this point.

The DRA panel reached the conclusion that Connolly's one-match ban should not stand because there had been a lack of fair procedures and that the breach had been 'disproportionate, irrational and unfair'.

They claimed that his right to fair procedures had been breached in six ways.

i. The Claimant was not given details of the entire evidence against him (as was his right under Rule).

ii. The Claimant was not given an opportunity to test that evidence, particularly, the evidence based on hearsay.

iii. The Claimant was not afforded any right to scrutinise and question the entire evidence against him.

iv. The Claimant was not afforded the opportunity to present evidence in support of his position.

v. The CHC erred and failed to take account of potential relevant considerations to the detriment of the Claimant.

vi. The CHC erred in not exercising their discretion under Rule in making a request for clarificati on where it was manifest that it should have been exercised.

Brian Rennick was the member of the DRA panel who rejected Connolly's claim and it was his assertion that the case should have been re-heard by the CHC following the DRA's findings.

He wrote: "It is my view that the Claimant in this instance was afforded fair procedures, there being no misapplication of any of the rules complained of and there being no breach of accepted principles of fair procedures, natural and constitutional justice, such as would entitle this Tribunal to interfere with any of the decisions made.

"I strenuously disagree therefore with the majority decision which finds that there was “a significant impairment of the rights of the Claimant, which was disproportionate, irrational and unfair”.

"I am further of the view that the Decision and Reasons of the Majority in this case is fundamentally wrong in that it is in fact based on reasoning the arguments which were not canvassed by the Claimant at all and as such are in fact the construct of the Majority in circumstances where in fact the Tribunal did not find in favour of the Claimant in respect of 10 of the 11 Grounds of Claim as submitted.

"The single Ground of Claim on which the Majority have found in favour of the Claimant is firstly a Ground that should not have been considered by the Tribunal as it had not in fact been advanced before the CHC.

"Finally, it is my view that in instances where the DRA finds that there has been a breach of fair procedures that can be remedied that the case should be remitted to the CHC for re-hearing with directions as to how to correct the breaches complained of."

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