Student sues over being refused a place in Army Cadet School

Change in academic entry requirement deprived him of pursuing his dream career, court told

Oisín Quinn SC, for Mr Morrissey, said his client only learned last June of the Defence Forces’ decision of March 29th last to prevent results being carried forward from one Leaving Cert to another and had had no time to respond to that as the first Maths paper of 2018 had already been sat. File photograph: Ronan Quinlan/Collins

Oisín Quinn SC, for Mr Morrissey, said his client only learned last June of the Defence Forces’ decision of March 29th last to prevent results being carried forward from one Leaving Cert to another and had had no time to respond to that as the first Maths paper of 2018 had already been sat. File photograph: Ronan Quinlan/Collins

 

A student has gone to the High Court over an alleged “material” change in academic entry requirements which he claims is unfairly depriving him of pursuing his dream career as a Defence Forces officer.

The case by Gavin Morrissey centres on academic requirements for candidates seeking to enter the Army Cadet School. Because the 2018/19 cadet school course just started on September 25th, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, who granted leave to Mr Morrissey on Monday for judicial review of the refusal to admit him to the course, has listed the matter for next Tuesday.

The core of the dispute is whether Mr Morrissey, who sat and passed the Leaving Cert in 2017, and again in 2018, was entitled to “carry forward” a pass in Maths achieved by him in the 2017 exam so as to meet the requirement of achieving passing grades in six higher or ordinary level subjects.

Oisín Quinn SC, for Mr Morrissey, said his client only learned last June of the Defence Forces’ decision of March 29th last to prevent results being carried forward from one Leaving Cert to another and had had no time to respond to that as the first Maths paper of 2018 had already been sat.

Mr Morrissey, from Airmount Road, Slieve Rua, Co Kilkenny, says unless the Defence Forces reconsiders its refusal of his application, he will have to sit the Leaving Cert a third time.

While he has secured a place in Maynooth University, his father is a retired non-commissioned officer in the Defence Forces and his “long-held ambition” is to become an officer himself, he said.

Mr Morrisey first sat his Leaving Cert in 2017 but sat it again in 2018 because he needed an additional language to meet the three-language requirement for entry to the cadet school.

Because he had passed maths in the 2017 exam, he decided in January 2018 not to sit that exam again as he understood he could carry forward his maths result, a pass in maths being an entry requirement. He said he had attended a Defence Forces open day in April 2017 when he was told the subjects required to be passed by successful candidates for cadet school did not have to be passed in a single sitting of the Leaving Cert and candidates could count subjects they had passed in a previous Leaving Cert.

During the 2018 school year, he also consulted the Defence Forces website which indicated, in a section entitled Naval Service Frequently Asked Questions, the specific subjects listed “need not be in a single sitting”.

He had received an email on June 9th, 2018 setting out terms and conditions regarding officer cadetships but had not examined that “too closely” as he believed he would satisfy all the academic requirements “as I understood them”.

Those terms and conditions contained a note stating all of the minimum educational requirements must be met in a single sitting of the Leaving Cert. By the time he got that June 9th email, it would have been too late to sit the 2018 Maths exam as the Maths Paper One exam occurred the previous day, June 8th 2018 and the second paper was set for June 11th 2018, he said.

He has passed all other requirements for admission to the Cadet School, including a medical exam and psychometric assessment, he added.

In his proceedings against the Minister for Defence and the State he wants orders quashing the refusal of a place. He claims the refusal is unfair and irrational and breaches his legitimate expectation of a place on the course this year.