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GAA hails judge for throwing out fan's €60k claim over fall

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Dublin fan Martin Harte

Dublin fan Martin Harte

CollinsPhotoAgency

Dublin fan Martin Harte

The dismissal of a personal injury claim brought after an officer with the Department of Justice fell at a Cavan-Dublin game has been hailed as a "landmark decision" for the GAA.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane praised the unbelievable level of care taken by the GAA to safeguard fans when throwing out the €60,000 claim brought by Dublin supporter Martin Harte (41) over an incident at Kingspan Breffni.

"People are far too litigious. There is an expectation that owners of premises have to go to extreme lengths to try and prevent falls," she said.

The judge told Cavan County Board chairman Kieran Callaghan that the stadium management had gone to remarkable lengths to ensure spectators' safety.

She said the event management plan put in place for the match on February 5, 2017, by Mr Callaghan and his team of more than 170 stewards, gardai, civil defence members and groundsmen was "unbelievable" in its detail.

The judge ordered Mr Harte, of Cappagh Avenue, Finglas West, to pay Cumann Luthchleas Gael's legal costs.

It had defended the damages claim in which he alleged the sports body had been negligent in the provision, care and maintenance of steps exiting the open-plan south terrace.

Mr Callaghan told the Circuit Civil Court that if the GAA was compelled to introduce unrealistic remedies to 42,000 concrete steps in Kingspan Breffni, as suggested by a forensic expert on behalf of Mr Harte, it would also have to rebuild every stadium in the country.

He said the ground had been rebuilt in 1997 and not a single accident had been reported up to Mr Harte's fall or since.

Mr Harte had claimed that, although it had been a dry day, the steps had been dangerously wet and slippery from overnight rain. He had fallen, injuring his left shoulder and back.

Positive

The court heard there had been more than 16,000 spectators in the ground on the day and that more than a million people had been through the turnstiles without untoward incident in the last 10 years.

Cavan County Board public relations officer Susan Brady described the decision as a "landmark" and "incredibly important" for the future of GAA.

"It is a very positive outcome for the GAA, public liability and all businesses in Ireland," she told the Herald.