Sunday 11 December 2016

'We're certainly concerned there are Irish citizens in Brazil in this sort of situation' - Shane Ross on the treatment of Pat Hickey by Brazilian authorities

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

Published 24/08/2016 | 18:15

Pat Hickey with Sports Minister Shane Ross and Annalise Murphy,
celebrating her silver medal win
Pat Hickey with Sports Minister Shane Ross and Annalise Murphy, celebrating her silver medal win

MINISTER Shane Ross has said the Government is “concerned” at the treatment of Pat Hickey by Brazilian authorities.

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And as he announced the terms of reference for the State inquiry into the ticket scandal, Mr Ross said the Department of Foreign Affairs are seeking clarity from Rio as to what information they want from Ireland.

Police said yesterday that they wanted to assistance with probe into from the ‘Minister of Ireland’, but they did not make clear who they were referring to.

Read More: Government inquiry will look at handling of tickets for Sochi and London Olympics, as well as Rio

It is understood that officers were referring to Mr Ross but he said: “The Department of Foreign Affairs are looking for clarification about that.

“I interpret that to mean that they want some sort of knowledge of the investigation which we are holding.”

He added that the Irish government would “of course” be prepared to co-operate if Brazilian authorities make requests “through the normal channels”.

Asked whether he was concerned by way police publicly arrested former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey, the minister replied: “It’s not something we’re accustomed to here and it’s not something we would practice here.

“I respect the Brazilian authorities but we certainly are concerned that there are Irish citizens in Brazil in this sort of situation.”

Mr Ross added: “We’ll leave that to the Department of Foreign Affairs but I know they have got consular assistance everyday and they are getting a lot of attention. “

The Irish Independent revealed today that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had written to the minister describing events in Rio as “extraordinary”.

He said the "assumption of innocence seems to have been disregarded completely".

"While the Irish Government cannot interfere with how arrests are made in Brazil, it is important that concerns are expressed that the release of photographs on social media, within minutes of the arrest, is not what the Irish Government would deem appropriate," he wrote.

Mr Ross and Minister of State Patrick O’Dovovan confirmed that former high court judge, Mr Justice Carroll Moran will lead the State inquiry.

Mr O’Donovan said: “There’s going to be no limit and no boundaries put on him.”

A deadline of 12 weeks has been set for the inquiry’s final report, however the ministers said this could be extended “if the judge comes back and says he’s been led down a road he didn’t expect”.

The terms of reference state that the judge should probe the OCI’s ticketing and accreditation arrangements for Rio, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the 2012 London Olympics and “any previous Summer or Winter Games into which the judge wishes to inquire”.

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