*Kieran Harvey. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
A judge has told a GAA referee that there is no exemption from the law for important participants in GAA activities in this country.
By Gordon Deegan
At Ennis District Court, Judge Mary Larkin made her remark before convicting GAA underage referee, Kieran Harvey for a parking offence outside the grounds of Ennis GAA club, Éire Óg last July.
Mr Harvey of Aughanteeroe, Gort Rd, Ennis was contesting the prosecution and told Judge Larkin that he had simply no choice in the matter but to park his car-park outside the club grounds on a grass margin.
Mr Harvey was at Éire Óg on the morning of July 17th last to referee an under-13 hurling match involving Éire Óg whose senior footballers are the current Clare county champions.
Mr Harvey told the court that Éire Óg is a town club with over 1,000 members but has parking facilities for only 40 cars and the car-park was completely full on the morning.
Mr Harvey told Judge Larkin: “I parked in a careful and considered a manner as I possibly could. I did not obstruct any oncoming traffic coming back towards Ennis or going towards Kilrush”. He said: “I did not obstruct any pedestrians or any wheelchair users in the vicinity”.
Mr Harvey handed a letter from Éire Óg into court which outlined the circumstances about why he had to park outside the grounds on the day.
Addressing Mr Harvey, Judge Larkin said: “You are telling me the law applies to various people but not to GAA?”
“You are saying that ‘Sorry what we had to do was extremely important and we don’t have to comply with the law?’. Judge Larkin said: “I’m sorry. I can’t accept this as an adequate excuse from a mature adult like yourself in a position of responsibility.”
Judge Larkin told Mr Harvey: “You were breaking the law – and breaking the law is breaking the law. What you have outlined are mitigating circumstances. Do you accept that you broke the law?”
In response, Mr Harvey said: “Technically yes.”
In reply, Judge Larkin said: “There is no ‘technical’ about it. If I hit you with a hurley during the match would I be committing an offence?”
In reply, Mr Harvey said: “Probably.”
In reply, Judge Larkin said: “There is no ‘probably’ – I assure you I would be. I appreciate your difficulties on the day but the law is the law. Convict and fine €50.”
Mr Harvey received a court summons in the matter after not paying the parking ticket issued by Gardai on the day.
Earlier, Mr Harvey told Judge Larkin that he arrived 15 minutes before throw in but Judge Larkin told him that if he knew there were parking issues at the grounds, he should have arrived one hour before the game was due to commence.
Garda Ken Butler told the court that there were a large number of complaints to Gardai about parking on the date.
Mr Harvey said that there was a minor road crash near Éire Óg on the day and that is why Garda Ken Butler and other Gardai were in the vicinity at the time.
Mr Harvey said to Garda Butler: “After you attended the crash, ye then issued a number of fines to a number of car owners in the vicinity.”
Mr Harvey said: “I have spoken to a number of Éire Óg members since then and to put it mildly there are fairly displeased with the Gardaí in question but I appreciate that they are doing their duty as they would see it but however, the nature and circumstances around the parking fines that were issued were completely disproportionate in the circumstances.”
Mr Harvey said: “These are just hard working decent parents bringing their kids to a game – they all tried to park as considerately as possible”.