Tuesday 21 November 2017

Athletics: Legal remedy to Coghlan case will leave bitter taste

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

LEGAL eagles were ultimately the biggest winners financially from the High Court case that former Athletics Ireland CEO Mary Coghlan took against the federation and the Irish Sports Council (ISC).

Sports Minister Mary Hanafin finally released the Sports Council's report of the case on her departmental website yesterday and it reveals that the financial settlement cost a total of €309,283.

This was made up of €125,000 to Coghlan and €184,283 to her legal team. The costs were split between the ISC (€150,000) and Athletics Ireland (€159,283) -- but the report does not outline what the ISC's own legal costs were.

In his report, dated April 12, 2010, Sports Council CEO John Treacy insists that the ISC only went to court because "it was not possible to settle these proceedings at an earlier stage".

He alleges that "Ms Coghlan appeared determined to have her day in court (as she is entitled to do) and was not willing to settle the proceedings, other than for a sum well in excess of that which she ultimately received."

This strongly contradicts Coghlan's version of events. She insisted in a recent letter to the Minister that she was willing to enter into mediation on the matter at an earlier stage.

Treacy gives several reasons for making the joint settlement with Coghlan during the case, all of them largely based around the argument that continuing with it, ultimately, could have proved more costly.

But he adds: "It was also particularly clear that AAI had its own internal difficulties, and that the continuation of legal proceedings was not assisting in the rectification of these".

Treacy's report insists that the costs incurred would not adversely affect the funding of any of the ISC's 'client organisations' in 2010.

But he admits that it would reduce the ISC's 2010 contingency funds "and therefore limits the scope of the Council to act with flexibility to provide for supplemental funding of worthy projects as they may arise during the course of the year."

It was Martin Cullen, Minister Hanafin's predecessor, who initially requested the ISC report.

The Minister confirmed yesterday that she did not publish it until she had received a detailed reply to it from Coghlan (on September 6) and added that "based on the legal advice provided to me I do not intend to publish her response".

The Minister also added: "I will be asking the incoming chairman of the ISC (Kieran Mulvey) to consider the corporate governance issues raised by the report, and in Ms Coghlan's reply, and to provide assurances to me that best practice is exercised by the Sports Council in its dealings with its customers."

Meanwhile, the head of England's Commonwealth Games team last night demanded guarantees of safety after a day of chaos in New Delhi culminated in the collapse of a bridge to the stadium. The incident left 27 workers injured

There are also real fears that some teams may pull out of the Games due to the state of accommodation in the athletes' village, which has been described as "filthy".

Irish Independent

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