'There was no solo run': Cork GAA officials defend handling of senior administrator's redundancy

'There was no solo run': Cork GAA officials defend handling of senior administrator's redundancy
Diarmuid O’Donovan

Cork County Board chairperson Tracey Kennedy has insisted that both she and county secretary Kevin O'Donovan acted in good faith with regard to the redundancy of former senior administrator Diarmuid O'Donovan.

At tonight’s county board meeting at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, county board secretary Kevin O’Donovan read a statement outlining the chain of events that led to O’Donovan leaving his post on January 30. Having been offered redundancy, O’Donovan had sought a court injunction to prevent himself being removed from the role before negotiations led to a settlement.

A fortnight ago at the previous meeting, delegates had been critical of the board’s handling of the situation, but it wasn’t possible for board figures to comment on certain aspects. On Tuesday, Kennedy and O’Donovan sought to provide more clarity.

“There was no solo run,” O’Donovan said.

“It is standard in cases such as this for a recommendation to come from the chair and secretary to the executive, which then makes a decision, but the injunction prevented this.”

Tracey Kennedy
Tracey Kennedy

Kennedy added: “The proposed redundancy was not intended to impugn the performance of Diarmuid O’Donovan, the role always intended to conclude with the retirement of Frank Murphy as county secretary.

“I would like to place on record the board’s thanks to Diarmuid O’Donovan and wish him all the best.”

However, St Nicholas delegate Jerry Howe was unhappy with the manner of how the issue was dealt with.

“Anyone who has been through the redundancy process can see it was handled in a negligent way,” he said.

“Diarmuid O’Donovan was summoned to a meeting and presented with termination, a derisory settlement. He was told that if he didn’t accept it before the executive meeting, that payment would be withdrawn.

“You don’t put a gun to someone’s head if you want to settle amicably. If you push someone into a corner, they will go the legal route. The board has incurred a lot of legal costs that could have been easily avoided.

“If that HR advice came from Croke Park, then God help us now with the same body now in control of our greatest asset [Páirc Uí Chaoimh].”

Don Hegarty (Carrraig na bhFear) agreed that the advice received could have been better. Cill na Martra’s Gearóid Ó hÉalaithe enquired as to who decided on the figure and Kennedy said that there was a statutory payment and then, based on legal advice, an ex gratia figure based on a number of factors.

“We acted in good faith and sought advice, we didn’t want it to develop as it did,” she said, while Kevin O’Donovan pointed out that figures reported were incorrect.

Kevin O’Donovan
Kevin O’Donovan

Regarding a query from John Quirke (Blarney) on the process, Kennedy said that the intention had been to bring a recommendation to the executive, but the injunction was taken before that could proceed.

“Nothing was a fait accompli,” she said, “the executive’s view would have been taken on board. I reject the notion that this was handled in a negligent way.

“The advice received was that the employee should have been consulted before anyone else and that letter outlining the advice is available for clubs to see if they wish to request it.”

John O’Flynn (Freemount) complimented the chairperson and secretary on their openness.

“I questioned in 2017 if we needed a secretary and an administrator,” he said.

“Everyone’s asking about procedure, but the surprising element in this is that it was taken straight to the High Court when you know in 99 cases out of 100 that it will come back and be renegotiated.

“I’m disappointed with the reaction to the proposal, which I assume was fair. The only winners here were the legal people.”

Regarding the Páirc Uí Chaoimh pitch, which came in for criticism after the Cork-Kildare football league game and Cork-Wexford hurling clash, Kennedy outlined how there was a fundamental structural issue.

'There was no solo run': Cork GAA officials defend handling of senior administrator's redundancy

“We didn’t realise how bad it was,” she said, “the irony is that a report landed on the Monday, if it had come to us on the Friday then the games wouldn’t have been played.

“A number of people looked at the pitch and the groundstaff, led by Stephen Forrest, have done great work. Our concerns were weather-related rather than anything else.

“There’s a conference-call meeting of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh board tomorrow [Wednesday] and a decision will be made then on when the work should take place. At this stage, it’s likely that the remainder of our home league games will be in Páirc Uí Rinn.”

John O’Donovan of Clann nan Gael enquired if the height of the South Stand was an issue and if grow-lights had been used. Kevin O’Donovan said that these were factors and, going forward, the options were a more durable, more expensive, pitch or a normal pitch with the grow-lights, with neither a cheap option.

Passage delegate Matt Aherne lamented the fact that one journalist in the Irish Examiner and another in the Sunday Independent had used the pitch as a platform to criticise all aspects of Cork GAA.

Bob Ryan, previously the stadium operations manager, said that grow-lights were trialled last year and had a positive effect. However, he said that, “the idiotic thing was that two matches were played, football before hurling, and two juvenile games were played too.”

Kevin O’Donovan replied that he would “take all the blame before blaming the small boyeens that got a chance to play.”

Regarding recent poor performances by the Cork senior football team, Tracey Kennedy said she had had a chat with manager Ronan McCarthy.

“An issue raised with me was that two selectors [Ciarán O’Sullivan and Eamonn Ryan] had left and not been replaced,” she said.

“Ronan is working on that and I’d hope to have something for you before the next meeting. As well, the five-year plan is rolling into action, the first advertisements will be appearing in the next few weeks.

“They should bring about some improvements, but you can’t expect miracles overnight.”

Meanwhile, Colm O’Neill (Ballyclough), Maurice Moore (Carbery Rangers) and Pat Spratt (Buttevant) have been appointed as Cork U20 football selectors by new manager Keith Ricken. Elsewhere, Cork footballer Liam O’Donovan is set to miss a period of six-to-eight weeks after picking up a knee injury in Sunday’s Allianz FL loss to Clare.

More on this topic

Relentless marvel Cody an example to us all, says KielyRelentless marvel Cody an example to us all, says Kiely

‘You grow up wanting to play for Kerry, not training                    for Kerry’‘You grow up wanting to play for Kerry, not training for Kerry’

Downey: The All-Ireland is what you’re judged onDowney: The All-Ireland is what you’re judged on

Morris ready to go ‘hell for leather’ for provincial crownMorris ready to go ‘hell for leather’ for provincial crown

More in this Section

Boxer Maxim Dadashev dies from injuries suffered during fightBoxer Maxim Dadashev dies from injuries suffered during fight

Tipp stun Cork with late goal to win Munster U20 finalTipp stun Cork with late goal to win Munster U20 final

Players must rise to task, says PerthPlayers must rise to task, says Perth

Cricket: Root wants England to lay down a markerCricket: Root wants England to lay down a marker


Lifestyle

Homemade ice pops are handy for many reasons, they refresh on a warm day, but also you know exactly what is in them; no strange colourings or preservatives.Michelle Darmody's home made ice pops

Sometimes travel can be more about the journey than the destination, as Caroline Hennessy and her family discovered when they took a 13-hour overnight journey from San Sebastián to Lisbon to check out the Trenhotel experienceTravelling by train in Europe - with kids

The Great Hack looks at the implications of the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, writes Laura Harding.When tech firms go bad: Netflix's new documentary on Cambridge Analytica / Facebook scandal

Often hailed as one of the greatest animated films ever made, The Lion King has a special place in the hearts of generations of children.New King of the jungle: The director behind The Lion King remake

More From The Irish Examiner