Ballina RSL suspends letter writer
By DAWN COHEN
PATRICK KEARNEY has been found guilty of conduct unbecoming of a Ballina RSL Club member for writing a letter to The Northern Star.
The 55-year-old bowler was formally suspended for 12 months at a hearing before the club board on Wednesday night.
The suspension was reduced to three months' full suspension, with nine months' good behaviour.
"It's like not being allowed sex for three months," said Mr Kearney, who has been a member of the club since he was 21.
"I went for a drink after work and a yarn three or four times a week.
"I will have to go to the Ballina Bowling Club or drive to Lennox Head, but it won't be the same."
The letter, published on July 16, criticised the board for commissioning architects to draw up a master plan for the redevelopment of the Ballina RSL Bowling Club site.
The summons to the hearing from general manager, Bill Coulter, said Mr Kearney's letter constituted conduct prejudicial to the interests of the club.
The summons claimed it ridiculed the board while implying the directors were spending club funds inappropriately and misusing their power.
"If the general manager had just rung and said 'Pat, we feel this letter is a bit over the top', I would have said 'right oh, fair enough'," Mr Kearney said on Wednesday morning.
The local builder has been an outspoken critic of the board's desire to close the RSL Bowling Club.
In July the board reiterated plans to solve potential cash flow problems triggered by the NSW Government poker machine tax with a redevelopment of the Canal Road greens.
The Ballina resident has retracted the letter, in which he called the directors 'clowns' and 'fools'.
But he stands by his opinion that the directors should wait until after forthcoming elections of a new board before proceeding with the controversial move aimed at closing the bowling club.
"I was just trying to write the truth, and it came out a bit wrong," he said.
"I did not mean to hurt anybody.
"I would not like anyone to call me a 'clown' or a 'fool', and so I should not have hurt them that way."
Mr Kearney was entitled to call witnesses, but despite offers from 30 fellow bowlers to appear on his behalf, he decided to go it alone.
"I thought I should just take it on the chin," he said.
Will the passionate bowler stop expressing his opinion?
"They would have to cut off my typing fingers for that to happen."
General manager Bill Coulter declined to comment, noting that the RSL board chairman, Bob Grant, had said the proceedings and findings were confidential.
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