Monday 12 November 2018

Ross's failure to get advice on Rio ticket affair 'odd' - Gilmore

Shane Ross at Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Shane Ross at Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

Fionnán Sheahan

Former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has joined in the criticism of the handling of the Rio ticket scandal by Shane Ross, the Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister.

Mr Ross was famously rebuffed by the Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey after he had asked for an independent member on the original internal inquiry into the touting affair.

Mr Hickey cited legal advice and it emerged that Mr Ross had not received legal advice before travelling to Rio.

Following the arrest of Mr Hickey, Mr Ross returned to Ireland and belatedly sought the advice of the Attorney General Máire Whelan. He then set up a non-statutory inquiry into the affair, which lacks the power to compel witnesses.

Mr Gilmore, the former Foreign Affairs Minister, said the minister should have got advice first. "The first thing a minister will do is to establish first of all what is their power or what can they do?" he said.

"I think the odd thing in this case is that Shane Ross doesn't appear to have enquired as to what the extent of his power was until he came home and then consulted the Attorney General," said Mr Gilmore on Newstalk's 'The Sunday Show with Eoghan Ó Neachtain'.

He said there were several questions that Mr Ross should have asked first, namely:

  • What type of inquiry can there be?
  • Are there powers under legislation that a minister can exercise?
  • What sort of leverage can be used in terms of State funding?
  • What can the Sports Council do?

"I would have thought that Shane Ross should have armed himself with that information before his first meeting with Pat Hickey in Rio," he said.

Mr Gilmore said there should be a statutory inquiry, adding: "Shane Ross's approach has been very incremental."

Irish Independent

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