THE Edendork GAA club and one of its members face charges connected with the organisation of a fundraising draw in 2021.
Darragh Cullen, age unknown, of Bush Road in Dungannon and St Malachy’s GAC of Rossmore Road are each alleged to have contravened the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order from 1985.
It is understood to be the first time that charges have been brought against any sports club or community organisation in the north during the 38 years that the legislation has been in force.
The club is charged between January 29 and April 20, 2021, with failing to register with the district council attaching a copy of the lottery scheme, that the prize exceeded £25,000, that the tickets or chances in the lottery were sold at a price exceeding £1 and that tickets were advertised.
At Dungannon Magistrates Court, Conor Sally, on behalf of the Edendork GAA club, said that representations would be made to the Public Prosecution Service in relation to the charges seeking a review of the prosecution.
He said that there would be an evidential challenge in the case and and a test of the public interest in taking the action against the club.
He added that if this was not successful, then an‘Abuse of Process’ application would be lodged. If permitted, this would prevent the PPS from proceeding with the prosecution.
Karl McGuckin, instructed by Phoenix Law and representing Darragh Cullen, who it is understood is the current secretary of the club, said that they had already been engaged with the Public Prosecution Service for several weeks.
He said that this was not a straightforward case, but as both nuanced and complicated.
Adjourning the case until May 12 next, Judge Michael Ranaghan, also said that there were cross jurisdictional issues to be considered.
He said that the length of the adjournment was to find out exactly what is going on with the charges.
In a notice to its members released via social media prior to the case appeared in court, the Edendork GAC said that two years ago they had carried out a fundraising initiative to raise funds for much needed club development.
“This initiative has been under investigation,” they added.
“Recently we have been informed that the Public Prosecution Service intends to prosecute the Club withg regard to this fundraiser.
“We intend to strenously challenge this charge.”