Saturday 3 December 2016

Minister to meet family of Pat Hickey to discuss their concerns over his detention

Hickeys seek meeting with Taoiseach over concerns

Kevin Doyle and Cathal McMahon

Published 27/08/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD during a press conference for the Olympics. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD during a press conference for the Olympics. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Pat Hickey. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Irish officials cannot interfere "in any way" with the Brazilian police investigation into Pat Hickey, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said.

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The minister has issued a stern response to public statements from the former Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president's family who called for direct intervention in his case.

Mr Hickey's family said they were "gravely concerned" about the way he was arrested and detained in Rio de Janeiro, and have requested a meeting with Mr Flanagan and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

In a statement issued by the Hickey family's solicitor, Anne Marie James, the family described the issues surrounding his arrest and detention as "extremely worrying".

"This arrest and detention occurred over seven days ago and still no charges have been brought, nor has an appropriate venue for a bail application been made available to Pat Hickey," they wrote.

Responding last night, Mr Flanagan said he would not normally make public comments on individuals who were receiving consular assistance overseas but felt the need to reply to the Hickeys' call for action.

He said there was "ongoing contact" with Brazil to ensure that Mr Hickey had access to legal representation and that authorities were "fulfilling their responsibilities in ensuring the welfare and wellbeing of our detained citizen".

Read more: Hickey urged minister not to use the phrase 'ticket touts' in public

However, he said the department cannot provide legal advice or "interfere in any way in the judicial processes in another country".

Mr Flanagan has agreed to meet the family in the coming days to discuss their concerns, although he pointed out that his senior officials had already met their Dublin-based solicitors and discussed the family's concerns "in detail".

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said he had "no comment" to make on the statement, beyond pointing out that Mr Hickey "is receiving consular assistance as necessary".

The Irish Independent understands that the Taoiseach's office has not had correspondence from the Hickey family and learned of the request for a meeting with Mr Kenny through the media. And a spokesperson for Sports Minister Shane Ross said he had received communication from the family "which will be considered in due course".

The family listed five reasons why they were concerned for the 71-year-old:

The "manner in which Pat Hickey was arrested".

His "detention in a high security prison without charge".

The "effects of such detention on Pat Hickey's health".

The "pre-trial disclosure of what is purported to be evidence to the media without any right of a reply (which is leading and imbalanced reporting)".

Pat Hickey's "right to a fair hearing, given the prejudicial way in which he has been treated".

They said: "The Hickey family is gravely concerned about the effect this degrading and humiliating ordeal has had on their father and grandfather and how it continues to affect his physical and mental health.

"He has a serious heart condition and they are extremely anxious that he would be immediately released on bail and given the opportunity to respond to the accusations.

"They also, as a priority, want to get him home to Ireland as they have increasing concerns about his safety."

The statement added: "It was entirely inappropriate and unacceptable for a 71-year-old Irish citizen to be taken from his bedroom, arrested and walked in a state of undress before a pre-arranged camera crew, after which film and still shots were released to the global media."

Irish Independent

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