High Court adjourns O'Shea action against Goal


THE HIGH Court has adjourned an action by John O’Shea, founder and chief executive of aid agency Goal, over what he claims was a concerted effort to remove him from his post.

Mr Justice Roderick Murphy was told yesterday a temporary injunction obtained by Mr O’Shea last Tuesday – which had restrained steps at a board meeting held that day to deal with his position pending the matter coming back before the court yesterday – could be vacated on the basis of a mutually acceptable arrangement agreed between the sides.

Mr O’Shea’s application for an interlocutory injunction, which if granted would remain in place until the hearing of his full action against Goal, could be adjourned until next Thursday, his counsel, Paul McGarry, also said.

In his application for the interim injunction, the court heard Mr O’Shea rejected as “false and concocted” complaints made by some Goal staff against him, including complaints of behaviour resulting in a culture of “institutionalised bullying”.

There appeared to be a “personality clash” between Goal chairman Pat O’Mahony and Mr O’Shea, who had been told not to attend a board meeting of the agency last week where a vote to suspend Mr O’Shea was defeated by six votes to five, the court was also told.

Mr O’Shea, who set up Goal 35 years ago, feared an effort to suspend him might be made at a meeting of the charity’s board scheduled for Tuesday last, Mr McGarry said. It was his view there was “concerted action” to remove him.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said she was satisfied to grant an interim order, returnable to yesterday, restraining the taking of any steps to deal with Mr O’Shea’s position.

The judge was told Mr O’Shea had contacted lawyers on Monday after some board members told him they could not provide assurances to him and where he had scant information as to what was to happen at Tuesday’s meeting.

Mr McGarry said his side contended a disciplinary inquiry put in place arising from complaints against Mr O’Shea by some Goal staff members was not properly established. The board had deputed barrister Hugh O’Flaherty to set up a disciplinary sub-committee, counsel said. No written particularised allegations had been put to Mr O’Shea and two particular complaints referred to were not fresh and were false and untrue, counsel said. They were “concocted” by senior staff.