THERE HAS been “concerted action” to remove the founder and chief executive of aid agency Goal, John O’Shea, from the organisation, it has been alleged in the High Court.The Irish Times
has reported that Mr O’Shea’s legal representatives made the comment as he secured an interim High Court order restraining the charity from suspending him or dealing with his employment.
Mr O’Shea rejected complaints made by some Goal staff against him, including complaints of behaviour resulting in a culture of “institutionalised bullying” as “false and concocted”, the court heard.
A former sports journalist who worked with the Irish Press Group for 24 years, Mr O’Shea founded Goal in 1977. Since its inception, the charity has spent in excess of $1 billion responding to humanitarian disasters in places such as Sierra Leone, Haiti and Malawi.
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 of the agency last week, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy was told.
Mr O’Shea, who normally attends board meetings, later learned the chairman had put the question of whether to suspend him to a vote, which was defeated by six votes to five, Paul McGarry SC, for Mr O’Shea, said. This appeared to arise in circumstances where complaints by some staff members were put to Mr O’Shea last week and where a disciplinary inquiry was in place which, he contended, was not properly established.
Mr O’Shea feared an effort to suspend him might be made at another meeting of the board fixed for 5pm yesterday, Mr McGarry said. It was his view there was “concerted action” to remove him.
Last December, the board of Goal issued a statement expressing “full confidence [in] and support” of Mr O’Shea.
The appointment of current chairman, three-time Irish Medicines Board chairman Mr O’Mahony, was announced at the same meeting.
The statement followed the resignation of one the charity’s directors, Fran Rooney, amid complaints over “corporate management issues”.
Mr Rooney, former chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland, resigned after 3½ months, bringing to seven the number of people who resigned from the Goal board last year.
Ken Fogarty SC, appointed chairman of the Goal board in August, left in November.
Mr Fogarty resigned his position after a disagreement with Mr O’Shea about changes to the corporate governance he was trying to introduce.