Wednesday 25 April 2018

OCI does U-turn on decision to ban media from its elections

Former OCI president Pat Hickey Photo: Steve Humphreys
Former OCI president Pat Hickey Photo: Steve Humphreys
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has reversed its decision to ban media from attending its upcoming meeting to select the successor to controversial president Pat Hickey.

The unprecedented ban was planned for the upcoming EGM and was announced just days after invitations were sent out to media representatives.

Sports federations and other participants in next week's EGM were informed in a letter from OCI honorary secretary Dermot Henihan on Tuesday night. It followed a decision by the OCI's executive committee, the organisation's board, to exclude media.

It is understood the decision was approved without a vote taking place at a meeting held in recent weeks.

The decision was seen as an unusual move, as OCI elections have traditionally been open to the press.

Assurances had also been given last week that the EGM would be open to the press "in the interests of transparency".

The ban was also opposed by the OCI's press attaché Jack McGouran, who subsequently asked for it to be rescinded.

Within hours of the ban being revealed in the Irish Independent yesterday, the OCI announced there had been a change of heart.

In a statement it confirmed all accredited media would be admitted. "This rescinds a decision notified by the OCI to the national federations earlier this week," the statement said.

Sources said committee members were asked to vote on the issue by email on Tuesday night.

As well as electing a successor to Mr Hickey, the council's 36-member federations will also be selecting a new executive committee. Mr Hickey, who was president for 28 years, stepped aside after being arrested during a ticket touting investigation at the Rio Olympics in August last year.

Three candidates have put their names forward to replace him - acting president Willie O'Brien, Swim Ireland chief executive Sarah Keane and Basketball Ireland chief executive Bernard O'Byrne.

The roles of first and second vice presidents and honorary general secretary will also be filled. But there will be no vote on the role of honorary treasurer after Badminton Ireland nominee Nicky Jermyn withdrew from the race. Existing committee member Billy Kennedy will now be elected unopposed.

Irish Independent

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