Living with a litigation culture




It’s Saturday morning, and I am at work in Athlone. One of the things I like to do (hope the boss doesn’t get the Roscommon People) before it gets busy is read the morning papers, and this morning I am struck by the number of reports there are on various (and totally different) types of lawsuits.

  ‘Solicitor to the Stars’ Gerald Kean won a libel case against The Star newspaper, and a payout of €160,000, in a case that (funnily enough) merited a big feature (including photos) in The Daily Mail, but doesn’t appear to have been covered in The Star itself!

  Meanwhile, a lady who sued after falling from her horse during a Hunt, lost her damages claim. As someone who has had minor involvement with Hunts people, I would have to question why this young lady was ever advised to go down the legal route, as to my untrained legal mind her case seemed to have very little chance of success.

  In a nutshell, she sued the Hunt and the landowner after she suffered severe injuries when she had a fall. However, the Field Master of the Hunt had inspected the obstacle and advised the riders not to jump it, deeming it to be too dangerous. Apparently the young lady had fallen too far behind and didn’t hear his instruction, but the Judge ruled she should have kept reasonably close to the Hunt Master (to be in a position to receive such advice).

  In other cases, a stores worker sued after bruising her eye, but she too lost her case as an award of more than €31,000 was overturned – the High Court Judge found it “was her own fault” – and a former amateur boxer who claimed €60,000 damages for injuries received in a car crash also had his claim dismissed. He had said the only sport he had taken part in since the accident was swimming, but social media had footage of him taking part in boxing, so he too lost his claim.

  The overall conclusion that I have come to is that we now live in a ‘sue environment’ but thankfully judges are at last showing some sense in dealing with these cases, and no longer dishing out ridiculous awards. My advice to you is, if you decide to follow someone for anything, stay off social media, or your every move will be documented and followed.

  Now it goes without saying that I am not in any way condoning this new culture, but like it or not it seems to be here to stay, and everyone and every organisation is fair game, so we all better be on our guard or someone will find a reason to make a claim.  

Is it time to call time on Eurovision?

I managed to miss the Eurovision Song Contest at the weekend, but I see on all the papers that Madonna’s appearance, and performance, was a complete disaster. One critic in the Daily Mail described it as a nightmare of a performance, while The Guardian simply said it was excruciating.

  Thankfully I missed it all, but it seems to me that it’s time to consign this contest to the scrapheap.

  Britain’s entrant, Michael Rice, who finished last with only 16 votes, said the vote was totally political, with everyone against Britain for leaving the EU, and there can be no doubt that by now the actual song is of very little consequence, and it’s all down to politics.

  However, the huge extravaganza generates so much money that there is no way it will ever come to an end. The Netherlands will host it next year, and  once again Ireland will fail to make the final, and Britain will come close to the bottom (they have been last four times in the last sixteen years), and the truth is even if we had the best song ever written, it would make no difference. We don’t have enough political pull.

  Despite putting big money into the contest each year, thereby keeping them out of the semi-finals, the UK has never been in the top 10 in the last decade. If things stay that way the day might yet come when ourselves and Britain simply say ‘what’s the point?’ – and we both pull the plug.

Two major golfing achievements…

This weekend the golfing world is celebrating two monumental achievements. The first one is I will refer to is probably the better-known one, and that is the history-making win for American Brooks Koepka, who became only the fourth man to win four majors in only eight attempts when he won the USA PGA title on Sunday.

  He joins three of the biggest names in golf – Woods, Nicklaus and Hogan – in doing that, and his name will forever be immortalised in golfing history.

  The second major feat may not be quite as well covered in the international media, but on Friday evening, in the Castlerea Golf Classic, a hitherto unknown player had the huge honour of getting a birdie at one of the two new holes that were in operation, competitively, for the very first time.

  That player was of course myself, and one of my playing partners, Alan Devine, (my brother Duff, and my publican Mikeen were the other two) took a photo of me as I celebrated my own history-making moment.

  I don’t know if it was the first ever birdie on this hole, but it doesn’t matter, as it was definitely on its first day of play. Anyway, Alan got it developed and framed, and on Saturday evening at the presentation of prizes in the clubhouse, I was presented with my own memento of my big moment, and in case you don’t believe me…the picture is printed right here for your pleasure.

  The Classic itself was a huge success, with more than forty teams competing over the two days. Liam and Valerie Callaghan, people with a very strong connection with Creggs Rugby Club, claimed the first prize along with two team-mates.

  The presentation night was really enjoyable. There was great music and craic, and all the speeches highlighted the huge effort put in by the club members, volunteers, and others to have the course in such pristine condition. The overwhelming feeling is that Castlerea Golf Club is in a good place and facing the future with confidence.

  As for me, I will never forget the day I made my own golfing history, and I thank Alan for recording the photographic evidence. I had intended to frame the ball I did it with, but unfortunately I sent it out of bounds at the next hole – and sadly I failed to find it. Such are the joys of golf at the highest level, but I can console myself with the thought that even Koepka had a few wobbles before he clinched his record-breaking win.


And finally…hurling heroics

Finally for this week, as the Roscommon footballers prepare for their big Connacht semi-final against Mayo in Castlebar on Saturday, what about the achievement of the hurlers, who, after two unexpected victories, over Kildare (home) and London (away), have made it through to the semi-final of the Christy Ring Cup.

  After the difficulties the hurlers had last year, it’s great to see them bounce back in such a positive way, and as hurling is confined to a relatively small area in the county, it must be a constant struggle to keep it alive.  

  As a result, any success is more than welcome, so very well done on their wins so far – and let’s hope they can keep up the momentum and maybe even win the Christy Ring. What a story that would be!

Till next week, Bye for now!