Friday 28 October 2016

Hickey entitled to all diplomatic assistance

Published 20/08/2016 | 02:30

Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport and Sport Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport and Sport Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

And finally there's an independent inquiry into the Olympic Council of Ireland ticket-touting scandal. A week late, Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport and Sport, got around to seeking the legal counsel of the Attorney General.

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AG Máire Whelan's advice is no longer dismissed by Ross as "simply an opinion". After getting swatted away by OCI president Pat Hickey earlier this week with his legal advice, Ross now appreciates the value of doing your homework.

The minister couldn't have been expected to know how events would escalate over the following days. Neither could Hickey, clearly. Nonetheless, an informed view of the Government's powers to intervene would have been helpful from the start. The lesson will hopefully be learned by the novice minister. Put it down to a lack of experience.

Sensibly, Ross has followed the AG's advice and is establishing a non-statutory inquiry to investigate the Olympics ticket scandal. A retired judge is to be appointed. A deadline of 12 weeks has been set for the judge to report back.

Getting to the bottom of this labyrinthine saga will be quite a task. The interpretation put on the ticket arrangements by the Brazilian police is that the official ticketing agent Pro 10 was a front for hospitality firm THG to tout the tickets for extortionate prices at the Games.

The OCI says it will cooperate with the inquiry. The change of heart is hard to take as it has no other option.

Witnesses cannot be compelled to appear before the inquiry but the companies at the centre of the controversy, THG and PRO10, have indicated they will co-operate.

The Irish Embassy in Brazil is giving Hickey consular assistance. He will spend this weekend in prison.

Regardless of his attitude towards the Government and public concerns surrounding the ticket scandal, he is entitled to any help our diplomats can offer. Our Ambassador and the Department of Foreign Affairs will no doubt do everything they can to ensure Hickey, as an Irish citizen, is afforded due process and is treated humanely as he awaits the outcome of the investigation.

The Brazilian authorities are entitled to conduct their investigations, but Hickey is a 71-year-old man, with a heart condition, so should be treated with compassion.

A senseless murder of a decent family man

A working family man on holidays is gunned down on the street of a Spanish resort.

He did nothing wrong.

He committed no crime.

He has no links, however tenuous, to any criminal elements.

He was simply talking to another man staying in the same resort. Could there be a more innocent connection? And for this he was shot in front of his partner and children.

Neighbours of gangland victim Trevor O'Neill are still in shock after he was murdered in Spain on Wednesday night.

The Majorca holiday had been a birthday present for the Dublin City Council employee. He was killed in a case of mistaken identity linked to the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

His family, from Drimnagh on the southside of Dublin city, have now returned to Ireland but not to their home.

Trevor was known to neighbours who regularly spotted him out on the street, playing with his children.

One neighbour described him as "a lovely man and a very good dad". A fitting epitaph for a decent man, but those children have lost their father in senseless circumstances.

Irish Independent

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