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I'm not surprised at GOAL court showdown, says former director

FORMER director of the humanitarian agency GOAL Fran Rooney told the Herald that he is not surprised about the dramatic legal battle with John O'Shea and the board.

GOAL boss Mr O'Shea is set for a showdown in a bid to keep control of the charity he set up 35 years ago, amid claims of "institutionalised bullying".

Mr O'Shea, founder and CEO of GOAL, has secured a temporary High Court order restraining any steps to suspend him after alleging there is "concerted action" to remove him.

The charity boss is now locked in a bitter battle with the board to save his €100,000-a-year job at the head of the overseas aid body.

Lawyers for both sides are now preparing for a fraught showdown in court on Friday.

The former chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland, Mr Rooney stepped down from the board in December last year.

The shock departure followed another by senior counsel and former chairman of the board Ken Fogarty, who left the charity two weeks earlier.

"I'm not surprised, given that there was a struggle between the two previous chairman. So there is history in this regard," Mr Rooney told the Herald.

"It appears there are difficulties at the moment between the chairman and the CEO.


"I think that at this stage it may well be coming to a head."

The former board member said that he had concerns about corporate governance procedures at the organisation.

"Primarily it was the requirement to implement an audit community that was appointed by the board, reported to the board and to the chairman. That wasn't in place," he said.

"We (board members) also wanted to introduce a remuneration committee -- salary and payment of employees.

"We were also concerned about safety issues of staff abroad."

Both of these men were appointed in August last year after five directors had resigned.

Aid worker Sharon Commins, from Clontarf in Dublin, had previously criticised GOAL's handling of security arrangements in Darfur at the time of her kidnap by rebels.

Mr Fogarty also said that he resigned after a disagreement with the charity's chief executive and founder Mr O'Shea.

Mr O'Shea (68) has rejected complaints made by some GOAL staff, including claims of behaviour resulting in a culture of "institutionalised bullying", as "false and concocted", the court heard.

There appeared to be a "personality clash" between GOAL chairman Pat O'Mahony and Mr O'Shea, who had been told not to attend a board meeting last week where a vote to suspend Mr O'Shea was defeated, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy was told.

Mr O'Shea, who set up GOAL 35 years ago, feared an effort to suspend him might be made at another meeting of the Board fixed for 5pm yesterday, his counsel Paul McGarry said. It was his view there was "concerted action" to remove him.

Ms Justice Laffoy said she was satisfied to grant an interim order, returnable to Friday, restraining the taking of any steps at that meeting to deal with Mr O'Shea's position. Mr O'Shea had initiated the court action because he felt huge distress and anxiety over this process, his counsel added.