Sports Council investigation quashed

Tuesday 06 August 2013 21.57
Order was quashed by Mr Justice Peart
Order was quashed by Mr Justice Peart

A decision by the Irish Sports Council to appoint former Director of Corporate Enforcement Paul Appleby to investigate one of the council's own members has been quashed by order of Mr Justice Michael Peart.

Following a legal challenge Mr Justice Peart ruled that the matter lacked fairness to the applicant John Byrne.

Mr Byrne is currently chief executive officer of Community Games and a member of the Sports Council since September 2009.

He was previously a Director of Special Projects for the Football Association of Ireland from 2004 to 2011.

The High Court heard the Irish Sports Council investigation followed complaints made by the FAI alleging "improper interference with the funding process".

Mr Byrne denied any allegations of wrongdoing and claimed the investigation itself was unfair.

Mr Justice Peart said the complaint made against Mr Byrne by the FAI suggested, by implication at least, that he was not fit for office.

The setting up of an investigation and the appointment of a former Director of Corporate Enforcement carries with it "the whiff of sulphur not easily contained".

He said the “appointment by the Minister of a person to the council of the ISC is an important matter of national significance".

Mr Byrne, he said, clearly has a reputation sufficient to merit these appointments.

The judge ruled that the decision to authorise the appointment of an investigator amounted to a prima facie finding against him.

Mr Justice Peart ruled that the decision to investigate Mr Byrne was ultra vires (beyond the powers) the statutory powers of the Irish Sports Council and ordered that the decision be quashed.

A spokesperson for the Irish Sports Council said it will consider the terms of the High Court decision and determine any action in due course.