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Practice of giving politicians free tickets kicked to touch

THE Irish Sports Council (ISC) has ended its controversial practice of giving politicians and its own board members free tickets to major sporting events.

The Irish Independent has learned the council discontinued the practice in the wake of criticism over tickets being given to former Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue at taxpayers' expense.

Mr O'Donoghue was given a pair of tickets, costing almost €1,000, for the 2007 Rugby World Cup final.

It emerged following his resignation over an expenses scandal in 2009 that the former TD got the coveted tickets free of charge despite offering to pay for them.

Documents obtained by the Irish Independent reveal the State-funded council did not give any free tickets to politicians last year, but did continue to give them to its own board members.

However, the practice was recently discontinued and no free tickets have been given out this year.

During 2010, taxpayers footed the bill for €2,240 worth of tickets given to council board members.

Former chairman Ossie Kilkenny received €286 worth of tickets for rugby internationals.

Another board member, former Dublin footballer Brian Mullins, was given tickets valued at €480 for rugby internationals and the football and hurling All-Ireland finals.

Sports lawyer Susan Ahern, also a board member, got free tickets valued at €405.

Other board members to benefit from ticket giveaways included the late GAA administrator Michael Spain; Frances Kavanagh, from the Federation of Irish Sport; John Byrne, special projects director at the FAI; and former TD and rugby international Jim Glennon.

Irish Independent