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McAvoy backs the removal of 'local interest' from discipline hearings

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Ulster Council CEO Brian McAvoy. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ulster Council CEO Brian McAvoy. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Ulster Council CEO Brian McAvoy. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

A major change in how counties conduct their disciplinary procedures has been proposed by Ulster Council CEO Brian McAvoy.

He believes that the system would be fairer and more robust if disciplinary matters were outsourced to a committee which did not include any member from the county involved.

Current arrangements provide for all counties to deal with their own disciplinary issues, which is not always satisfactory.

"I am increasingly being told that the removal of 'local interest' may be beneficial to the process.

"It has been suggested to me by several interested parties that County Hearings Committee members should be drawn from outside the county to protect the interests of all and remove any perception of bias," states McAvoy in his annual report.

He is referring specifically to Ulster but obviously it's an area of interest to the rest of the country too.

Debate

"It is something which I feel is worthy of debate and if sufficient support were to be forthcoming, it could be trialled on a pilot basis in three willing and (ideally) neighbouring counties," he said.

Referring to "a number of violent and unseemly incidents at games in the province (Ulster)", McAvoy warns players that they must be mindful of the consequences of their actions.

"Players must realise that what happens on the field doesn't always stay on the field and legal action can and does arise from on-field actions.

"The 'cover' of a mass brawl doesn't make you invisible and the courts largely take the view that an assault on the field of play is no different to assault at a street corner."

He is advocating stiffer penalties for contributing to a melee, including those who claim to be peacemakers.

"Numbers arriving at the scene more times than not inflame the situation," he states.

McAvoy accepts that penalising would-be peacemakers 'may seem draconian' but insists that it's time to take a hard line on violence in all its forms.

"If we are serious about tackling this major blight on our games, then we need to take draconian action.

"Disciplinary committees should not shy away from their responsibilities, even if it does lead to multiple suspensions as it's only when players themselves suffer the penalty that this problem can be eradicated from our games."

His report will go before the Ulster Convention in the Kilmore Hotel, Cavan tomorrow night week when Oliver Galligan (Cavan) will take over from Michael Hasson (Antrim) as provincial president.

Irish Independent