Tuesday 26 September 2017

Media banned in election U-turn by 'transparent' OCI

Mr Hickey, who is facing charges of ticket touting in connection with the Rio Olympics, held the role of OCI president for the past 28 years. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Mr Hickey, who is facing charges of ticket touting in connection with the Rio Olympics, held the role of OCI president for the past 28 years. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The media will be banned from the meeting to select the successor to controversial Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey.

The unprecedented move will cause much confusion, coming just days after the OCI's press attaché sent invitations to media representatives to attend the EGM taking place at Dublin's Conrad Hotel next Tuesday.

OCI elections have traditionally been open to the press and assurances were given last week that the meeting, where a new executive committee will be voted on, would be open to the media "in the interests of transparency".

However, a letter issued to participants last night by the OCI's honorary secretary, Dermot Henihan, said that security would be in place at the meeting and that only the individuals on the list would be permitted entry to the meeting room.

"There is a lot of media interest. Please note media will not be permitted into the meeting room during the proceedings," the letter said.

The OCI's press attaché Jack McGouran was initially unaware of the letter when contacted last night, but later said it had been issued following a decision by the executive committee, which is the council's board.

Mr McGouran said Mr Henihan had not made the decision and was merely issuing the committee's decree.

In another twist Mr McGouran said he did not agree with the media ban and had asked Mr Henihan to write to the committee requesting it rescind the decision.

He said he was unaware why the decision had been made in the first place.

"To show pure transparency, it is essential they change their position and allow the media into the room as is usual in all other national AGMs and EGMs involving sporting federations," he said.

The bizarre turn of events comes as a bitterly fought election battle enters its final days.

Mr Hickey, who is facing charges of ticket touting in connection with the Rio Olympics, held the role of OCI president for the past 28 years.

His close ally and acting president Willie O'Brien is among three people vying for the job.

The others are Swim Ireland chief executive Sarah Keane and Basketball Ireland chief executive Bernard O'Byrne.

Mr O'Brien has been with the OCI for 20 years, while Ms Keane joined the committee two years ago.

Mr O'Byrne has not held an OCI position before.

Irish Independent

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