Monday 27 January 2020

Questions raised after Treacy gets Sport Ireland job

Ross criticised for failing to ensure open competition

Role: John Treacy Photo: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
Role: John Treacy Photo: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

Wayne o'Connor

Concerns are being expressed within Fine Gael about the reappointment of Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy, just days after the Taoiseach was forced to address a controversial sporting appointment in the Dail.

Independent Alliance Sports Minister Shane Ross is being criticised within Fine Gael ranks for approving Mr Treacy's reappointment and failing to make sure an open competition was run.

Mr Treacy's new four-year deal worth €125,000 per annum came in to affect yesterday and will end during his 21st year as the head of Sport Ireland (formerly the Irish Sports Council).

Government guidelines state the CEO of a State body should only serve a single term of seven years.

The rules were recently brought into to question after Horse Racing Ireland's CEO Brian Kavanagh was reappointed for an unprecedented third time.

Sport Ireland chairperson Kieran Mulvey criticised the guidelines and said they were not considered when Mr Treacy was reappointed.

"He had contractual rights within the Irish Sports Council that were transferred by legislation into the new body (Sport Ireland) in 2015.

"He was given continuity of employment and guaranteed employment until retirement.

"The State has paid significant sums of money because of their misinterpretation of the European directive on contracts of indefinite duration and I was not prepared to put Sport Ireland or the State into a litigious position."

Mr Treacy was originally appointed as the head of the Irish Sports Council in 1999 and became CEO of Sport Ireland when it was merged with the National Sports Campus Development Authority last year.

He was appointed provisionally for 12 months and then Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring told the Seanad in April 2015 a competitive process would be opened in 2016 for the selection of a new CEO.

"I will appoint somebody in a temporary capacity for one year and get the chairman and board up and running. The board will appoint the CEO, as it is normal practice for agencies to run a competition," said the former minister.

"I fully expect that the board of Sport Ireland will follow the normal practice and run a competition. The first CEO will be an employee of Sport Ireland and not a board member. The second CEO will be appointed by the board and the first CEO will have no role in the appointment."

Mr Mulvey said Treacy will now continue as CEO before retiring a year early in 2020 at the end of the new Olympic cycle.

"On the basis of legal advice sought by the board of Sport Ireland, we would be faced with the situation of potentially having two chief executives.

A spokesperson for the Department of Sport said they were satisfied with Mr Treacy's reappointment.

It comes after the controversial reappointment of Horse Racing Ireland's (HRI) CEO Brian Kavanagh was questioned by opposition TDs last week.

HRI has since confirmed Mr Kavanagh is willing to walk away from the body in five years when his new contract ends.

Sunday Independent

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