Saturday 1 October 2016

PAC chairman: Statement from OCI on Rio tickets scandal is a 'joke'

Harry Clarke

Published 11/08/2016 | 12:57

Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming
Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming

The chairman of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee has branded the Olympic Council of Ireland's statement on the Rio tickets scandal as a 'joke'.

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The Olympic Council of Ireland today stated that it has contacted the Rio 2016 Organising Committee in a bid to obtain all evidence and relevant information so they can advance their investigation into the ticket touting scandal. They added that if any Authorised Ticket Reseller is found to be involved in any wrongdoing then their status will be 'reviewed' after the Olympics.

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, criticised the OCI's response to the ticket issue.

"They are saying they are treating the matter seriously and if anybody is found to have breached the regulations they shouldn't be appointed for future Olympics," he said.

"That's a joke. There has to be stronger sanctions than that."

Fleming also said that outgoing OCI President Pat Hickey could be called to speak to the committee after the Rio games.

Police detained director of THG Sports Kevin James Mallon (pictured) and translator Barbara Carnieri, who they said was also an employee of the company, on charges of fraudulent marketing
of tickets for the Games. Getty Images
Police detained director of THG Sports Kevin James Mallon (pictured) and translator Barbara Carnieri, who they said was also an employee of the company, on charges of fraudulent marketing of tickets for the Games. Getty Images

"He must have a good idea of where the breakdown in the system in relation to the ticket allocation sales and resale occurred, so I think he could give a bit of clarification on that at this stage because Ireland is getting bad publicity internationally and we could do without that," Fleming said.

Irishman Kevin James Mallon, one of the heads at hospitality provider THG Sports, was arrested with tickets for the Rio Games and is accused of conspiracy and helping sell tickets illegally. Another employee of the firm, Barbara Carnieri, was also arrested.

While Sports Minister Shane Ross has said he is also considering a Government inquiry into the controversy, the opposition have criticised the Government for not acting quickly enough.

Today, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) released a statement insisting that their own investigation is progressing.

“The OCI’s investigation into allegations of illegal ticket sales is progressing. We have formally requested the Rio 2016 Organising Committee to pass on immediately all evidence and relevant information from the investigating Brazilian authorities to enable the OCI to advance our inquiries as quickly as possible," read an OCI statement.

"In the meantime, the OCI has also recommended to the IOC and the Rio 2016 Organising Committee that if any wrongdoing is discovered on the part of any ATR in this affair then its status as an ATR be reviewed both for Rio 2016 and future Games.

"The OCI strictly adheres to the IOC regulations around ticket allocation, sale and re-sale. We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness."

Shane Ross has faced accusations of inaction and yesterday he moved to quell public controversy as the issue was set to be brought before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

PAC member and Fine Gael TD Noel Rock called on the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) to be hauled in.

He said: "This ongoing ticket scandal is an embarrassment, not just for the OCI but for the country in general.

"While we should be enjoying the events taking place, we are discussing off-the-field antics and an Irishman arrested for selling OCI-allocated tickets on the black market."

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