Row over alleged banning of family from Dublin GAA club adjourned

Judge says clarity is needed as to identity of correct defendants

A High Court action brought by a mother of four young children who are allegedly banned from participating in activities at their local GAA club has been adjourned for a week.

The action has been brought by Sinead O’Farrell, of Sandford Wood, Swords, Co Dublin, who on Monday was granted permission by the High Court to serve short notice of proceedings taken against the officials of Fingallians GAA Club.

She is seeking an injunction removing the alleged ban on behalf of her children Luca (10), Cai (8), Nia (6) and Alia (5) who, she claimed, along with her and their father, Jason, were told to stay away from the club.

When the matter returned to court before Ms Justice Eileen Roberts on Thursday, the family’s lawyers said they had no contact from the defendants about the case until late on Wednesday evening when they were informed the people who should be sued are the club’s trustees and not the defendant club officials.


Ms Justice Roberts was told the plaintiffs are happy they have sued the correct parties, and that lawyers for the trustees have no right of audience in the proceedings.

Counsel for the trustees told the court that his clients, who are not the same as the defendants, were the correct parties that should be sued, and that the dispute should go to arbitration rather than before a court of law.

The action is against club officials Colin Foley (club chairperson), Carl Jones (vice chairperson), Eoin Martin (club secretary), Denis McCarthy (juvenile chairperson), Sarah Nixon (children’s officer) and Pat Ward (disciplinary chairperson).

The judge said clarification is needed as to the identity of the correct defendants. She adjourned the case for a week to allow instructions to be taken.

Previously, the court heard the O’Farrells are all paid-up members of Fingallians, Seatown West, Swords, and all of the children take part in both football and hurling.

Ms O’Farrell said a dispute arose following a football tournament for under-nine 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 was the head coach of the club’s under-nine boys’ group.

Arising out of the fallout within the club from the tournament, she said Jason and other adults whose children were part of the group were fired as volunteer coaches of the under-nines in September.

She added that since the removal of those parents, there have been a series of communications and meetings involving club officials, the O’Farrells and the other parents. None of the issues between them have been resolved, she said.

Last month she claims that her husband and her family were told in one communication by a senior official at the club for the entire family to refrain from attending, 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 Jason the most profound shock and distress.

The Farrell’s solicitors wrote to the club seeking undertaking including that no steps be taken by Fingallians to prevent the O’Farrell children from accessing the club’s facilities.

In a letter to the O’Farrell’s solicitors, the club said 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”.

However, no undertakings were given and Ms O’Farrell has sought injunctions restraining the officials from interfering with the family’s right to attend the club and participating with club teams or groups.

She also seeks declarations, including that a message sent by the club to her husband earlier this month purporting to ban the family from training is unwarranted, unjustified, unlawful and has no legal effect.