Friday 9 December 2016

Clear-out of OCI's executive on cards, hints Ross

Published 20/08/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross, left, and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O'Donovan at a press conference regarding Olympic Tickets scandal. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross, left, and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O'Donovan at a press conference regarding Olympic Tickets scandal. Picture: Caroline Quinn

A clear-out of the Olympic Council of Ireland's senior executives could be on the cards, Sports Minister Shane Ross has indicated.

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The minister has said the independent inquiry into the Rio ticketing scandal should not shy away from tough questions about the board's handling of governance.

To date committee members, including FAI boss John Delaney and former Olympic medallist Sonia O'Sullivan, have been silent on the controversy.

In a statement last night, the OCI said its board "regrets events in Brazil have overshadowed the many great performances of Team Ireland".

They promised to "co-operate" fully with the inquiry being set up by Mr Ross and have appointed Arthur Cox as legal advisors.

"The Board has no further comment on the charges against Mr Hickey who is receiving his own legal advice and is entitled to natural justice and due process," they said.

However, just one of the 12 members of the board, Willie O'Brien, has spoken publicly about the controversy, saying that they would defend the OCI "to the hilt".

As he announced details of the judge-led inquiry yesterday, Mr Ross was asked whether it was time a clear-out at the OCI in order to restore trust in the Olympic movement.

"I think that's a very fair question. All those questions have been asked in the last few days and I think it's something which should probably be included in the terms of reference if it's necessary.

"If the initial questions lead in that direction I don't think we should be reluctant to go down that road," he said.

Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan also noted that he feels "at the centre of this there may have been a temptation to lose sight of what the Olympic Games are about".

"Certainly from our point of view we would be anxious to make sure that the spirit of the Olympic Games is put back to the fore in relation to this," he said.

The OCI said last night that its board "has not had an opportunity to meet in person to discuss events in Rio".

However, they are expected to meet at some stage over the weekend and have promised a further statement after that.

Mr Ross said he is confident that "key people in the OCI over a number of years are going to be available" to give evidence at the inquiry.

Irish Independent

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