Sunday 22 April 2018

But who will be Scrooge?

John Greene

John Greene

I t is difficult to imagine that there could be a more accident-prone sports body around than Athletics Ireland. Even when it is not looking for trouble, it still comes knocking on the door.

Indeed, AI is currently starring in its own nightmarish version of A Christmas Carol.

First came the ghost of Christmas past, in the form of Joe Sweeney. After winning the national cross-country title two weeks ago, he let fly. "If there's one thing I learned from the last two years, it's that you don't depend on Athletics Ireland for anything, you've got to be self-sufficient." The Dubliner, cut adrift by AI two years ago following a dramatic dip in form later discovered to have been caused by a medical problem, has risen from the ashes and will wear an Irish jersey again next year after his comeback victory.

On Wednesday, comes the ghost of Christmas present, when AI president Liam Hennessy goes before a Dáil sub-committee. Hennessy faces an uncomfortable hour or so, as he will be asked about comments he is reported to have made about his last visit to the committee in June 2009, to the effect that he 'spoofed' and 'prevaricated' to avoid answering questions. The committee's chairman Tom Kitt has said Hennessy owes the committee an apology.

And then there is the ghost of Christmas yet to come. This year, AI received just over €1m in core funding from the sports council but before it can rely on a similar level of support in 2011, council board members will need to see that all this money was invested directly into the sport, and that none of it was used to offset the substantial legal bills incurred by AI this year.

Bah humbug, indeed.

Sunday Independent

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