Sunday 4 December 2016

Pat Hickey has form when it comes to sports ministers with an agenda

Jody Corcoran recalls the night that Olympic Council credit card receipts were handed over in a Dublin pub

Published 21/08/2016 | 02:30

Long reign: Pat Hickey has been president of the OCI for 28 years. Photo: Sportsfile
Long reign: Pat Hickey has been president of the OCI for 28 years. Photo: Sportsfile

Shane Ross is the latest Minister for Sport to be criticised for the perceived timid nature of his recent interactions with the Olympic Council of Ireland, which is mired in potential scandal in Rio, Brazil. It is notable, however, that such criticism has not come from political rivals, but from former colleagues in the media, none of whom have had to directly interact with the council or its president of 28 years, Pat Hickey.

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In my 20-plus years association with the Sunday Independent, I have come up against the Olympic Council and Mr Hickey on a few occasions, and on one occasion in particular, which gave a valuable insight into how that organisation conducts its business at the curious and unregulated interface where sport meets politics.

Three weeks before the general election in 1997, this newspaper published a front-page article under the headline: 'Minister denies getting a free holiday'. The minister was former Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen. Last week, the former Sports Minister and I briefly recollected these events, which, as I say, may give an insight into how some in the OCI conduct business.

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