Friday 2 December 2016

Hickey won't resume role as OCI chief if he comes home

Martin Grant and Claire Murphy

Published 12/09/2016 | 02:30

If granted his passport, Mr Hickey could be allowed to travel home to Ireland. Photo: Reuters
If granted his passport, Mr Hickey could be allowed to travel home to Ireland. Photo: Reuters

Under-pressure Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) boss Pat Hickey will not resume his role as chief of the organisation if he returns to Ireland, according to the OCI acting president Willie O'Brien.

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Mr O'Brien was responding to reports that Mr Hickey would step back into his presidential duties if he is allowed to return home to await trial for alleged ticket touting at the Rio Olympics.

Mr Hickey (71) temporarily stood down as president of the OCI after he was arrested on August 17 by Brazilian police investigating ticket touting.

It is expected a Brazilian judge this week will decide if Mr Hickey's passport should be returned to him pending a trial date - which could take more than 18 months.

If granted his passport, Mr Hickey could be allowed to travel home to Ireland.

Read more: Pat Hickey: 'This has been a life-changing experience for me... I am humbled by the support of thousands in Ireland'

However, acting OCI president Willie O'Brien last night told the Irish Independent he doesn't expect Mr Hickey to take the reins again if he returns.

"Mr Hickey stepped aside as president when initially arrested and for the period of his legal challenge to accusations made against him by the Brazilian authorities," said Mr O'Brien.

"The Olympic Council of Ireland has received no further notice of any change to that position."

However, the acting OCI president would not rule out the possibility that Mr Hickey may return to his role as president in the future.

When asked if the OCI board would welcome Mr Hickey back into his role as president while facing charges, Mr O'Brien replied: "That's a matter that is not before the executive board."

He added: "We must offer Mr Hickey the opportunity to address his situation and allow him the presumption of innocence until proven guilty."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that members of other sports organisations have contacted Basketball Ireland chief Bernard O'Byrne to indicate their support after he queried the OCI's handling of the alleged ticket touting affair.

Read more: Pat Hickey and Kevin Mallon set to stand trial in Rio after judge accepted charges against them

Mr O'Byrne last week wrote to Mr O'Brien asking which person the board would support in the event of an election for president.

"We are being put in a very vulnerable position due to the fact that we have no information on which we can base reasonable and honest replies to the above questions," wrote Mr O'Byrne.

"He asked which person the board would support in the event of an election for president and "what exactly were the actions" the executive board has taken regarding the ticketing issue.

The Irish Independent can now reveal that a number of individuals from OCI-affiliated organisations have said they privately support Mr O'Byrne but are unwilling to speak out publicly.

"There is disquiet amongst other sports organisations about the OCI's handling of the alleged ticket touting scandal, but no one is willing to put their head above the parapet yet," a source told the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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