Monday 26 September 2016

John Delaney likely to face TDs over €5m FIFA loan to 'clear up points' of payment

Payment raises 'governance issues', says Dáil committee

Published 08/06/2015 | 02:30

FAI CEO John Delaney with his partner Emma English while Minister of Transfer, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe looks on (Photo: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
FAI CEO John Delaney with his partner Emma English while Minister of Transfer, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe looks on (Photo: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney
Fine Gael TD and committee chairman John O’Mahony

Embattled FAI boss John Delaney is expected to be called before a Dáil committee to publicly explain how the controversial €5m Fifa loan could remain undetected for so long in the FAI accounts and annual reports.

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Mr Delaney is set to be hauled before a parliamentary committee hearing to explain "governance issues" arising from his acceptance of the money.

The payment, which came after Thierry Henry's blatant handball deprived Ireland of a place in the 2010 World Cup, has sparked worldwide controversy.

In Ireland it has put the Government under political pressure given that the FAI has received and continues to get huge taxpayer-funded payments.

TDs and senators in the Oireachtas sports and tourism committee will meet on Wednesday and political sources have made it clear they are likely to call Mr Delaney at the earliest possible date.

Committee members say they accept that the sum involved is clearly not taxpayers' money - but they insist that many related issues and questions arise.

John Delaney
John Delaney

The committee chairman, Fine Gael TD John O'Mahony, who has had a long sporting involvement managing GAA inter-county teams, said the decision on whether to call Mr Delaney was entirely up to the members.

"The committee will meet on Wednesday morning and I'm sure the matter will be discussed in private there," he said.

"First of all, my own view is that it is not tax-payer's money. It was €5m from Fifa.

"While we don't involve ourselves in the internal workings of any other sporting organisation, there have been some suggestions we should have some governance here with this issue, that would be the area where we would have an interest in.

O'Mahony said the committee will look to "clear up the points that arose during the press conference on Friday".

"I cannot presume what the position of the committee will be. The way in which the facts have come out has taken every sports fan and member of public by surprise.

"It is important that there is governance of all sporting organisations and that is our role to oversee that"

Another committee member, Labour TD Michael McCarthy, said members had to take account of the depth of Irish football supporters' disappointment at the travesty which occurred at the World Cup qualifying game in 2009.

"The arrival of €5m into the FAI coffers in 2010, a time of nationwide financial distress, appears to have gone unremarked. How was such a large sum of money handled and transferred and how does it relate to accounting practices generally? These are just some of the questions which arise and the public are entitled to answers," Mr McCarthy said.

"That is why I believe the FAI should provide the committee with the answers it needs," Mr McCarthy added.

So far the FAI has said the money was paid over in January 2010.

It was then paid over to the company managing the Aviva Stadium in February and March 2010 to repay a portion of debts. A portion of the money was also used to fund FAI regional grants.

It had originally been styled as a Fifa loan but was written off in 2013.

The Oireachtas sports and tourism committee has already heard from the GAA on the controversy surrounding the cancelled concerts of country music star Garth Brooks and the decision to give some championship rights to Sky television.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has already suggested that the issue may be a suitable matter for examination by the committee.

Irish Independent

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