Cavlan issues statement in wake of TV revelations

THE following is a statement released by Gerard Cavlan, through his legal team, following last week's BBC broadcast.

"In light of the recent publicity surrounding my offence at court on a charge of possession of a dog of a prohibited breed and the broadcasting of the Spotlight programme I would like to again unreservedly apologise to my family,all of my friends, supporters and colleagues in the GAA for any disappointment or distress that they have felt arising out of events reported.

"I sincerely regret the events that occurred. I would emphasise that at the Court hearing in April there was no allegation made that I had participated in dog fighting activity and that was the agreed set of facts before the court. The matter was dealt with by way of a fine for possession of one prohibited breed dog and possession of other dogs which had no licences. I appealed the penalties imposed to the County Court where the penalties were substantially reduced by the judge.

"It is therefore a matter of regret that the BBC should see fit at this stage to give such personal prominence to me in the course of the Spotlight programme.

"It is particularly disappointing that the makers of the programme found it acceptable to resort to deception in approaching me about the return of the dog, merely for the purpose of attempting to obtain unguarded admissions. It is also a serious matter that this was done shortly before my court appearance at a time when I was perceived as being vulnerable to the approaches of this nature.

"I am also concerned at the lengths which the makers of Spotlight went to highlight my connection with the GAA. My only connection with the GAA is as a club and county player. I do not represent the views or standards of the GAA nor is the GAA in any way responsible for what I do as a private individual and amateur player. It would have sufficed to have mentioned, at most, my position in Tyrone football. Instead, for reasons which the BBC can no doubt explain, the Spotlight programme repeatedly returned to footage of Gaelic matches at various gaelic venues.

"The enthusiasm of the BBC in pursuing the GAA aspect of the story is in stark contrast to the time it devotes to the broadcasting of the GAA games compared to other sports. GAA is by far the biggest spectator and participation sport in Ireland.

"I would finally like to add that since my court appearance last April I have sought to have this matter accurately reported and left behind me. I do, of course, regret any disappointment that I have caused and particularly any damage I may have caused to the good name of the GAA."