A woman has asked the High Court for an injunction restraining a Dublin GAA club from barring her four children from participating in club activities.
Sinead O’Farrell, of Sandford Wood, Swords, Co Dublin, was granted permission today by Mr Justice Brian O'Moore to serve short notice of the injunction proceedings on the officials of Fingallians GAA Club in Swords.
Her barrister, Richard Kean SC, told the court that his client was seeking the restraints on behalf of her children Luca (10), Cai (8), Nia (6) and Alia (5) who, she claimed, along with herself and their father, Jason, had been banned from the club.
Mr Kean, with Ger Colleran BL, instructed by Robinsons Solicitors for the family, said the O’Farrells were all paid-up members of Fingallians and all of her children take part in both football and hurling.
Ms O’Farrell seeks injunctions against club officials Colin Foley, Carl Jones, Eoin Martin, Denis McCarthy, Sarah Nixon and Pat Ward.
In an affidavit seeking the injunctions, she says a dispute had arisen following a football tournament for under-9 boys in Newry, Co Down last year.
She claims her husband, other parents, and volunteer coaches were unhappy with the approach to the tournament taken by Richie Herity, who had been the head coach of the under-9 boys group.
Arising out of the fallout from the tournament, she said that her husband, Jason, and other adults whose children were part of the group, were fired as volunteer coaches of the under-9s last September.
Since the parents' removal, a series of communications and meetings involving club officials, the O'Farrells and the other parents have taken place, without any of the issues between them being resolved.
She also says that she now understands one particular communication from the club, involving the coaching, vetting, and transfer to another club, “to have been a clear suggestion/invitation for my family to leave Fingallians GAA and go elsewhere”.
Earlier this month, she claims a senior official at the club asked the entire family to refrain from attending at the club until a meeting had taken place with her husband and the club's chairperson.
Ms O’Farrell said the entire affair had caused her and her husband the most profound shock and distress.
She said the matter was now urgent as their children were due to return to training on the new Fingallians all-weather pitch.
Their solicitors wrote to the club seeking an undertaking, including that no steps be taken by Fingallians to prevent the O'Farrell children from accessing the club's facilities.
In reply, the club said in a letter that their children are "entitled to the same access to the club's facilities and activities as all other club members in good standing", and it had "no intention to exclude them”.
The club accepted there had been difficulties between some of the mentors of that particular group and certain parents of children in that group.
Some of the volunteer mentors have refused to coach the children of those parents, the club said.
The club said it was attempting to take steps to place these children with other squads whose mentors have agreed to coach them.
The intent of this is to avoid distress, not to cause it, the club said.
Ms O'Farrell said that no undertakings were given by the club,
The children, she said, are "innocent", "wholly blameless”, and were being "victimised”. She added that they were being separated from their friends, and "punished" over something they have no connection with.
Mr Justice O’Moore granted short service of Ms O’Farrell’s proceedings on the club officials on an ex parte basis. The case returns to the High Court on Thursday.