Sunday 25 February 2018

OCI chief had us for breakfast at meeting in Rio, Ross admits

Shane Ross: 'He certainly did put me 'back in my box'
Shane Ross: 'He certainly did put me 'back in my box'
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Sports minister Shane Ross has admitted that OCI chief Pat Hickey "had us for breakfast" during a meeting when the Olympic ticket touting scandal erupted in Rio.

The meeting, which the minister described as a "disaster", was regrettable, he admitted last night.

"I came out of it pretty battered and bruised, having achieved nothing," he said.

"I met a brick wall, a complete and utter brick wall," he said of his meeting with Mr Hickey, which happened just days before the 71-year-old was arrested by Brazilian police.

On reflection, Mr Ross admitted that he was "naïve" going into meeting with Hickey. "I shouldn't have led with my chin," he said.

"He certainly did put me 'back in my box'," he said in reference to legal advice given to Mr Hickey in an email that was later released by Brazilian police to the media.

He also revealed that he was stunned when word of Mr Hickey's arrest reached him as he was walking down the street in Rio with his wife and his mobile phone "exploded" .

"It was utterly unreal. My first thought was 'this can't be true'," he said.

He said he has no regrets about appointing former High Court Judge Carroll Moran to lead the non-statutory inquiry into the ticket scandal .

He said that ticketing companies PRO10 and THG had both agreed to co-operate with the inquiry, as had the Olympic Council of Ireland.

Mr Ross appeared as the last guest on a 'Late Late Show' which focused on Ireland's Olympic athletes.

Boxer Michael Conlan confirmed to Tubridy that he is turning professional following his disappointing quarter-final defeat, which led to his televised rant about corruption.

He said that although he "cringes" when he watches his post-fight comments, he doesn't regret what he said.

"When I look back at that now I cringe because I did go a bit far," Conlan said.

"If I didn't go that far I probably would have been sitting here with regret because I spoke my mind and people saw what I felt. Some people - not many - gave me a bit of stick but most people seemed to understand it.

"I don't regret what I said, I stick by what I said and if it happened again I would probably react the exact same way."

Rowing sensations Gary and Paul O'Donovan turned up in matching suits.

Gary spoke about how security fears led him to hide his prized silver medal in a sock.

"You would hate to lose it. We got this fancy box for it and when we were over in Rio, apparently some of the cleaners were taking stuff from the rooms.

"I was petrified so I hid it in a sock," he said.

Irish Independent

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