Thursday 23 November 2017

GAA star fired from job after 'repeatedly punching club volunteer'

John Murtagh of Parnells GAA Club pictured at The Employment Appeals Hearing
John Murtagh of Parnells GAA Club pictured at The Employment Appeals Hearing

Ryan Nugent

An All-Ireland winning footballer was sacked from his barman job at a Dublin GAA club amid allegations he "repeatedly" punched a patron in the face.

Former Armagh senior footballer John Murtagh (32) admitted he had "seen red" and "accosted" Parnells GAA club volunteer Greg Maxwell.

However, he denies punching Mr Maxwell. He has taken an Employment Appeals Tribunal case against the club for unfair dismissal, arguing that correct disciplinary procedures were not followed.

It's alleged that three separate incidents took place in the early hours of August 24, 2013.


Mr Murtagh - an under-21 All-Ireland winner - remained in the bar after he finished his shift at 7pm the previous evening.

He claims an initial verbal argument took place when he confronted Mr Maxwell about harassing a group of women.

The Tribunal heard how he confronted him again in the club's pool room and this time allegedly grabbed him and pushed him to the floor.

Eight minutes later Mr Murtagh followed Mr Maxwell into the kitchen.

Another staff member, Hayley Massey, said in a statement to club management that Mr Maxwell fell to the floor after being repeatedly punched by Mr Murtagh, the Tribunal was told.

At the time Mr Maxwell also gave a statement to the bar's general manager David Feeney, claiming "Johnny Murtagh came storming through the door and started throwing punches at me".

Mr Murtagh's solicitor told the Tribunal that his client admits that he "grabbed him [Mr Maxwell], accosted him but he never punched him or kicked him".

Mr Murtagh claims Mr Feeney met him after the incident and told him if he wrote a letter of apology he didn't have to worry about his job. Mr Feeney denied this, telling the hearing that he stayed away from Mr Murtagh during this time. He said that he had a duty to provide a safe environment for people at the club and said Mr Murtagh was fired for "gross misconduct".

Mr Murtagh's solicitor argued that his client was not on the premises in a work capacity and asked why disciplinary procedures for social members of the club didn't apply in this case.

He argued that the club cannot extend employee sanctions to employees who are off-duty.

The tribunal continues today.

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