In a bombshell letter to all Meath GAA clubs, Slane GFC have asked them to oppose the nomination of former chairman Peter O’Halloran to contest the position of Assistant secretary at next months annual convention.

In the letter, which can be read in full below, the East Meath club recap the issue which saw O’Halloran resign as chairman in 2019, saying,

‘Slane GFC has had some well-publicised issues with Mr O’Halloran in the past few years, most notably when, during his time as chairman of the county’s CCC, he instructed a referee to ‘ride Slane’ and followed up by calling us ‘tramps’.

Mr O’Halloran subsequently resigned as chairman of the Meath County Board and in his resignation statement he admitted to sending the messages, describing it as “an error of judgement”

Leinster Council was asked to investigate the incident by the Meath county executive. Former GAA president Liam O’Neill, along with Leinster Council operations manager Shane Flanagan and Fintan Fanning of the Wicklow county executive led this investigation. The report found that Mr O’Halloran had fallen short in “leadership, transparency, accountability and integrity” as set out in the GAA’s governance guide.

The Meath executive was deeply divided at the time on the controversy, but a vote among the members favoured some kind of disciplinary action being taken. However, the Meath executive subsequently decided that Mr O’Halloran should escape any sanction, as the issue was not reported within a period of 96 weeks as required under rule. This was despite new evidence only coming to light.

Slane GFC maintained at the time, and still do so now, that this was a flawed process which led to a flawed decision. We know many others in Meath GAA believe the same. The Meath County Board said, however, that Slane had been the victims in this controversy and had conducted themselves with integrity. The board offered a public apology at last year’s convention, and the Slane GFC chairman acknowledged that gesture and said he looked forward to working with all gaels in Meath in the best interests of the GAA.’

The club also insists it does not harbour a grudge over the incident but is concerned only about the integrity of Meath GAA when it says, ‘In writing to clubs now, we accept we run the risk of being accused of harbouring a grudge against Mr O’Halloran. This is not so. As a club we have tried to put this issue behind us. Our chairman meant what he said at convention last year.

‘Please be assured that our concerns now are solely around the integrity and good governance of Meath GAA, and about having the best people in key positions at all levels of the association in the county.’

They then reveal that they have yet to receive an apology from Peter O’Halloran, when they state, ‘Mr O’Halloran has had ample opportunity to contact the Slane club and to apologise in some way for his actions. For reasons best known to himself he has chosen not to, despite his former colleagues on the Meath executive acknowledging that the club had been wronged.’

They go on to ask for the rest of the clubs backing, saying, ‘Slane GFC calls for support from all clubs in Meath to vehemently oppose this nomination.’

The letter in full

A chara,

 

By now, you will have most likely received the nominations for the new county executive to be voted on at the upcoming county convention.

Perhaps, like Slane GFC, you were shocked to see that former chairman Peter O’Halloran has been nominated for a position of responsibility and power on the executive committee – that of assistant secretary.

Slane GFC has grave concerns about this very surprising development. We are now taking the unusual step of contacting every club in the county to outline those concerns. We feel we have little choice, especially given that clubs will not get to come together this year as we have every other year to choose our leaders because of the pandemic.

But, more importantly, we do this because we believe this is a very important issue which speaks to the integrity of Meath GAA.

Slane GFC has had some well-publicised issues with Mr O’Halloran in the past few years, most notably when, during his time as chairman of the county’s CCC, he instructed a referee to ‘ride Slane’ and followed up by calling us ‘tramps’.

Mr O’Halloran subsequently resigned as chairman of the Meath County Board and in his resignation statement he admitted to sending the messages, describing it as “an error of judgement”

Leinster Council was asked to investigate the incident by the Meath county executive. Former GAA president Liam O’Neill, along with Leinster Council operations manager Shane Flanagan and Fintan Fanning of the Wicklow county executive led this investigation. The report found that Mr O’Halloran had fallen short in “leadership, transparency, accountability and integrity” as set out in the GAA’s governance guide.

The Meath executive was deeply divided at the time on the controversy, but a vote among the members favoured some kind of disciplinary action being taken. However, the Meath executive subsequently decided that Mr O’Halloran should escape any sanction, as the issue was not reported within a period of 96 weeks as required under rule. This was despite new evidence only coming to light.

Slane GFC maintained at the time, and still do so now, that this was a flawed process which led to a flawed decision. We know many others in Meath GAA believe the same. The Meath County Board said, however, that Slane had been the victims in this controversy and had conducted themselves with integrity. The board offered a public apology at last year’s convention, and the Slane GFC chairman acknowledged that gesture and said he looked forward to working with all gaels in Meath in the best interests of the GAA.

Just 12 months later, Mr O’Halloran now has been nominated for an important position, despite the fact that a high-powered investigation committee said that he has previously fallen short in “leadership, transparency, accountability and integrity”. These are strong words.

In writing to clubs now, we accept we run the risk of being accused of harbouring a grudge against Mr O’Halloran. This is not so. As a club we have tried to put this issue behind us. Our chairman meant what he said at convention last year.

Please be assured that our concerns now are solely around the integrity and good governance of Meath GAA, and about having the best people in key positions at all levels of the association in the county.

Mr O’Halloran has had ample opportunity to contact the Slane club and to apologise in some way for his actions. For reasons best known to himself he has chosen not to, despite his former colleagues on the Meath executive acknowledging that the club had been wronged.

Already this year the club had to contact the CCCC after Mr O’Halloran was appointed to referee a Slane/Rathkenny minor match as we felt this put all sides in a difficult position. In fairness, a new referee was appointed. But it is beyond our comprehension how an individual who was investigated for appearing to attempt to influence a match was scheduled to referee Slane within 12 months of a Leinster Council investigation.

Slane GFC calls for support from all clubs in Meath to vehemently oppose this nomination. We expect our county board to act as per the GAA’s governance guide of transparency, accountability and integrity. Allowing an individual who has clearly fallen short in these areas into a potential position of power is unacceptable and not the way forward for Meath GAA.

Standards are set at the top by our county board, and allowing Mr O’Halloran be considered for a position on the executive committee poses serious questions of our county board. It must also be noted that the Meath Management Committee are required under bye law 13(a) to examine and assess the nominations and motions before issuing to each club. Again, it is beyond our comprehension that the Meath Management Committee allowed this nomination to proceed.

We do not lightly state that this latest development shows not just a lack of respect to the Slane club, but to the Meath GAA community in general, and we cannot just stay quiet and let it happen.

As our chairman said this time last year, “We, like so many other clubs around County Meath and around the country, are hard working GAA people, not ‘tramps’.”

 

 

Is mise le meas,

 

 

Runai Liam O’ Cleirigh ar son Coiste Baile Shlaine