Sport Ireland defend 'private' meeting between chairman and Pat Hickey
Sport Ireland has defended a private meeting between the organisation’s chairman Kieran Mulvey and former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) Pat Hickey who was forced to step down from his position over a tickets scandal.
The meeting between two senior figures of Irish sport was held in the Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin on July 12.
Sport Ireland said Mr Mulvey met the former Olympic chief in a “private and personal capacity” at Mr Hickey’s request.
“Kieran Mulvey met with Pat Hickey in Clontarf recently (at Mr. Hickey’s request) in an informal, private and personal capacity, a spokesperson said.
“No Sport Ireland or Olympic business was discussed,” she added.
The spokesperson also said Sport Ireland enjoys a “very positive and constructive relationship” with what is now called the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) and “fully supports” the new board of the organisation.
Mr Hickey stepped from the OCI after he was arrested at the Rio Olympics in Brazil two years ago over his role in a tickets scandal.
Mr Hickey refused to cooperate with a government review of the controversy led by Judge Carroll Moran which was highly critical of his leadership of the OCI.
Mr Mulvey was previously criticised for meeting Mr Hickey when he returned to Ireland after spending two weeks in a Rio prison. Mr Mulvey insisted he met Mr Hickey at the One Pico Restaurant in Dublin on "humanitarian" grounds.
However, Fianna Fáil's then sports spokesman Robert Troy criticised Mr Mulvey over the meeting, saying the "optics" sent out the wrong message. But Mr Mulvey rejected the criticism, saying: "I don't think the last remark was called for. I don't intend to respond."
Earlier this week, Mr Mulvey defended meeting under-fire former Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney. He said they did not discuss the controversial €100,000 bridging loan Mr Delaney gave to the football association when the pair met in March.
Speaking to the Sun newspaper, Mr Mulvey said: “It wasn’t related to that at all. It was just a chat. He had asked to see me to bring me up to date about things that were happening. It was before all that controversy broke out around the €100,000 loan.
The Sport Ireland chairman said calling the meeting a “dinner” would be “over-describing it” as it was a “chat over a plate of food in Enniskerry (Wicklow).”
“It was a social conversation. He was informing me about what was going on in Uefa, and what they [the FAI] hoped to achieve with the bid for the World Cup, and the distribution of the European Championships,” he added.