Wednesday 28 September 2016

John Delaney U-turn 'sets a dangerous precedent'

Concern over Irish soccer boss lobbying for political support

Niall O'Connor and Daniel McConnell

Published 11/06/2015 | 02:30

Mr Delaney did not respond to calls for comment
Mr Delaney did not respond to calls for comment

A Fine Gael politician has claimed the events surrounding FAI chief John Delaney's proposed appearance in front of an Oireachtas committee set a "dangerous precedent" in Irish politics.

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Kerry South TD Brendan Griffin has expressed deep concern over the decision by Mr Delaney to personally contact committee members just hours before they voted upon whether to ask him to appear to answer questions over the controversial €5m FIFA payment.

The Oireachtas Transport and Sport committee yesterday voted against the move, despite strong protests from a cohort of young Fine Gael TDs.

During a tense private meeting, the clerk of the committee said he believed bringing in Mr Delaney may be outside its remit.

Nonetheless, almost the entire Fine Gael delegation claimed it would be helpful for Mr Delaney to appear, given the public concern surrounding the events leading to the €5m payment in 2010. Mr Griffin told the committee that a "dangerous precedent" had now been set in Irish politics.

Details of the payment, made following the controversial handball by Thierry Henry, plunged the FAI into days of controversy. At the weekend, both Sinn Féin and Labour members of the committee indicated their desire for Mr Delaney to appear to answer questions on the payment.

But the two parties, along with Fianna Fáil and Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, yesterday expressed their opposition to the move.

Several of those against, including Fianna Fáil's Timmy Dooley and Sinn Féin's Dessie Ellis, said they did not believe it was necessary for Mr Delaney's planned appearance.

But the u-turn came after Mr Delaney personally phoned some committee members and other Government politicians expressing concern about appearing. Eight TDs, who are all committee members, confirmed to the Irish Independent that they received phone calls either on Monday or Tuesday.

Mr Delaney did not respond to calls for comment.

Read more: Delaney spared FIFA pay-off probe

Read more: 'If John Delaney spoke to other Oireachtas Committee members, he shouldn't have' - chairperson

Irish Independent

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