Saturday 17 March 2018

'Olympics report was not undermined by lack of co-operation,' says Ross

Minister Shane Ross Picture: Robbie Reynolds
Minister Shane Ross Picture: Robbie Reynolds
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The judge-led inquiry into the Olympic ticketing fiasco has not been undermined by a lack of co-operation from key players including Pat Hickey, Transport Minister Shane Ross has insisted.

The 226-page report will be formally released next Monday, with the minister saying people should read it in full before reaching their own conclusions.

The Irish Independent has already revealed that Judge Carroll Moran expresses unhappiness that relevant parties including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not participate in the process.

It is almost a year since the inquiry was commissioned on a non-statutory basis. Its final report heavily criticises former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey - but stops short of pointing to any evidence that he was involved in a ticket touting ring.

The 72-year-old is awaiting trial in Brazil where he is charged with forming a criminal cartel and illicit marketing.

Mr Hickey and the IOC cited the ongoing legal process in Rio as their reason for not engaging with Mr Justice Moran.

The Rio Organising Committee failed to reply to correspondence from the judge.

At the time of the inquiry's establishment, Mr Ross was criticised by Opposition parties for not setting up a Commission of Investigation which would have powers of compellability.

Asked if he now regrets the way the probe was structured, the minister replied: "The answer to that really is no, I don't regret the course we took. Certainly not. You'll see why when you get the report."

He added: "I don't think the report is undermined by anything. The report is the report and I think people should make their own judgements when they get it.

"We would have preferred obviously if everybody had co-operated but that's a matter for themselves."

In his report, the judge recommends against the establishment of a full Commission of Investigation for a variety of reasons, including the potential cost to the State.

At the same time, he says, there may be "information significant to issues herein of which the inquiry is unaware by reason of the silence of the parties not participating".

Initially, the report was to be complete within 12 weeks which would have seen its publication last December.

Mr Ross said: "I would have preferred if it was shorter. Of course I would. The judge came back looking for extra time, we gave it to him."

He declined to comment on any of the details of Mr Justice Moran's conclusions revealed in the Irish Independent this week.

"I can't comment on what I have read at the moment. Obviously it would be wrong. Hopefully it'll be published next week. I'd ask everybody to read it for themselves and make up their own mind," he said.

The report will say that during his time at the helm of the OCI Mr Hickey used an authoritarian style of leadership.

Once the report is published, the Oireachtas Sport's Committee will invite Mr Hickey to attend a special sitting, along with Mr Ross, current OCI President Sarah Keane, and John Treacy and Kieran Mulvey of Sport Ireland.

Irish Independent

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