Officials refute claim consultation process was ‘extensive and inclusive’

Tom Stark and Michael Willis.
Tom Stark and Michael Willis.

Tom Stark and Michael Willis have also disputed claims the University’s consultation process was ‘extensive and inclusive’.

“Tom, along with our coach Ryan McGeough, met a delegation from the Sports Union and the Sports Department in Sept 2012 who put to us the idea of a combined team,” revealed Michael.

“We strongly rejected the idea. First they said it was to save money - we replied we would raise the necessary finance. Then they said it was to improve the chances of winning.

“We replied that this was unlikely and to be done properly would require a team playing together at a high standard every Saturday and training together at least once a week plus a team of coaches on each campus.

“This would be the only way we could compete year in year out with the likes of UCD and UC Cork.

“It would very expensive as we would have to persuade players to leave their Irish League clubs.

“It would also be time consuming - especially for students- travelling across the province twice a week for training etc.

“After that we heard nothing - they say there were meetings which we failed to attend but we never received any such contact (nor did our rugby club).

“Our next contact was last September 2013 at meeting with the Director of Sport and the Irish Universities Football Union (IUFU) the governing body for the Collingwood Cup. We suggested a compromise - two teams to enter namely UUJ and UUC with Magee.

“This was subsequently rejected after initial acceptance and in order to avoid embarassing the IUFU in its centenary year of the Collingwood Cup UUC agreed not to enter allowing UUJ go as UUJ not UU and on the understanding that UUC would enter this year.

“This academic year our students received a letter from a senior officer in the university outlining what would happen if they entered the Collingwood as UUC.

“This letter threatened removal of permission to use the facilites and receive finance and possible disciplinary action for any misuse of the university’s name.

“These are hardly the actions of a university which puts high priority on the welfare of its students or the promotion of equality of opportunity and increased participation in high level sport.

“We have asked for several meetings with those who make such decisions but get no reply other than the standard ‘corporate’ untrue responses.”