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GAA to consider if brothers can play for another parish

A GAA county committee will vote on whether two brothers can play football for a different parish than the one they live in, after a court case was settled.

The two schoolboys claimed they might have to give up sport altogether because the GAA would not let them play football for the club they love.

Padraic (14) and Colin O'Sullivan (8) sought exception from a GAA rule which requires that people can only play for the parish they live in.

Under yesterday's settlement, a new vote is to be taken at a meeting of the Kerry County Committee on July 11 next on the matter.

High Court judge Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, who had earlier urged the parties to consider mediation, congratulated them on the agreement.

He said he fully accepted there were important principles involved but he was glad the parties had stepped back from proceeding with litigation in the High Court.

Through their mother Christina, the boys had sued Peter Twiss in his capacity as secretary and representative of the Kerry County Board.

They claimed they were being deprived of their right to play Gaelic football because they have been told they must play for a Firies GAA Club -- which is more than seven miles from their home in Ballytrasna, Faha, Killarney, Co Kerry. They want to play for Listry GAA club, which is just over a mile away.


Because they live in the parish of Firies, they have been told by the county board that they must play for Firies under what is known as the GAA's "parish rule" or "Rule 20".

They sought a number of orders and declarations from the court including an injunction restraining the county board from preventing them from playing for Listry.

They were also seeking an exemption from the parish rule.

They claimed that failure to do this breached their right to freedom of association under the Constitution. They also claimed that unless they were allowed to play for Listry, they might give up playing sport altogether.

The claims were denied.

Following discussions, Ercus Stewart SC, for the O'Sullivans, told the judge it had been agreed the case could be struck out on the basis of an agreed statement read out in court.

It was agreed that the matter will be addressed at a meeting of the county committee on July 11 next.

The boys' parents may attend and make whatever submissions they wished followed by submissions from the two clubs involved, after which the matter will be open to the floor for discussion.

Written submissions from the parents are also to be circulated to delegates in advance of the meeting, and the O'Sullivans agree to be bound by the rules of the GAA.

Irish Independent