Sunday 18 March 2018

Irish figure skater (18) launches legal bid to ensure selection for international events

Fianait Bligh (18). Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Fianait Bligh (18). Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

A FIGURE skater has launched a legal challenge aimed at compelling the sport's national governing body to select her for upcoming international events.

Fianait Bligh (18) wants the High Court to compel the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) to comply with representations it allegedly made to her that if she fulfilled certain criteria she would be selected to take part at International Skating Union events.

Ms Bligh, originally from Dublin now living in Scotland, competes at junior level. She claims she is being discriminated against.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan today granted Donnchadh Woulfe Bl, for Ms Bligh, permission to serve short notice of the proceedings against the ISAI. 

The application was made on an ex-parte basis, where only one side was represented.

Mr Woulfe said the action arose out of representations made to his client by the ISAI.

It is claimed she was told by the ISAI that if she achieved certain criteria, including passing a junior skating event and skating in the national Skating Championships, she would be selected to compete at international events during the 2015-16 skating season.

Counsel said his client reached the particular standards required of her.

However she was notified that because she did not achieve "a merit score" she would not be selected.

She had not been informed her achieving a merit score was a requirement of being selected.

She believed she is being "discriminated against" because in the past other skaters who did not achieve a merit score were selected by the ISAI to compete internationally.

Counsel said there was urgency to Ms Bligh's application as the closing date for the registration of competitors for an upcoming international skating competition in Riga Latvia,  is this Friday.

Counsel said the ISAI was aware that Ms Bligh was making an application to the court, and it had informed her representatives that the matter should go to arbitration.

However, this was not suitable as the arbitration process was for disciplinary matters, he said.

The ISAI would not suffer any prejudice as only one other skater has been selected by the association to take part at the same level as Ms Bligh, whereas in the past two skaters had been selected by the ISAI.

Ms Bligh is prepared to pay her own costs of taking part in the upcoming event, so there will be "no financial burden" on the association, counsel said.

The case returns to court on Friday.

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