Friday 2 December 2016

Grassroots organisations call for review of how OCI is governed

Martin Grant

Published 08/09/2016 | 02:30

Pat Hickey – who has been embroiled in an ongoing Rio ticket-touting investigation – has
been president of the country’s Olympic organisation for more then 27 years. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Pat Hickey – who has been embroiled in an ongoing Rio ticket-touting investigation – has been president of the country’s Olympic organisation for more then 27 years. Photo: Steve Humphreys

One of the largest organisations affiliated to the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has criticised the governance of the body in the wake of the Rio scandal.

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The men's branch of the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) made the significant statement in response to a survey of all affiliated OCI organisations by the Irish Independent.

A major spotlight has now been focused on the term an OCI president should serve after the Golfing Union of Ireland issued a statement saying 27 years leading the organisation was not acceptable.

Investigation

Pat Hickey - who has been embroiled in an ongoing Rio ticket-touting investigation - has been president of the country's Olympic organisation for more then 27 years.

The president of the GUI, Pat Finn, said the length of time an OCI president can serve should now be examined.

"A review of the OCI's governance structures is required as it is not appropriate for any individual to hold an office such as President of the OCI for more than 27 years," Mr Finn told the Irish Independent in response to questions.

Mr Hickey sits on the executive board of the OCI alongside several other members - including Olympic medallist Sonia O'Sullivan.

The GUI last night said that while it supports certain members of the executive, it has concerns surrounding Mr Hickey and the ongoing investigation by Rio police.

"I retain confidence in many of the members of the Executive Committee of the OCI.

"If the email released by Brazilian authorities is genuine, I could not have confidence in Mr Hickey as president," Mr Finn added.

After becoming president of his beloved Irish Judo Association, Mr Hickey was appointed president of the OCI in 1989, succeeding Desmond O'Sullivan.

Read more: 'Silent' Pat Hickey leaves police HQ after less than an hour as prosecutors lay charges before judge over Rio Games alleged ticket touting

He has been at the helm of the OCI ever since and has overseen the organisation for nearly three decades.

Meanwhile, other organisations affiliated to the OCI have also called for urgent clarification.

Paralympics Ireland, which is a fully independent organisation, believes issues need to be addressed.

"It would appear there are questions to be answered," said a spokesperson for Paralympics Ireland. "The investigations, including the Government inquiry, have yet to conclude and we will form a full opinion once these findings come to light."

Election

The organisation also said it would be open to the suggestion of seeing new leadership in the OCI.

The statement added: "Paralympics Ireland will consider supporting suitable candidates in the election of president of the OCI at the time the election is called and candidates declared."

However, the other organisations contacted by the Irish Independent signalled their support for the OCI.

The Irish Judo Association - which Mr Hickey once led - expressed confidence in the organisation

"The Irish Judo Association is confident that the OCI will act in the best interests of sport in Ireland.

"The association follows due process with regards to elections or appointments to the OCI when required," a spokesperson added.

Irish Independent

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