Tuesday 24 April 2018

Wall of silence forms around 'gatekeepers of the sport'

Pat Hickey. Photo: Brendan Moran
Pat Hickey. Photo: Brendan Moran

Robin Schiller and Luke Byrne

A wall of silence has formed around the Olympic Council of Ireland's committee members following the arrest of the organisation's president.

Pat Hickey (71) was formally charged with offences relating to ticket touting on Wednesday afternoon, but members of the OCI have refused to comment on the scandal that has been ongoing since the arrest of Irishman Kevin Mallon in Rio on August 5.

Committee members include Olympians, CEOs and association presidents, but none have as of yet publicly commented on what has been described as an "embarrassing" situation.

Of the 13 senior officers and executive members on the committee, four declined to comment and five did not reply to requests for a comment. A further four - including Mr Hickey - could not be reached for comment.

The executive members include FAI CEO John Delaney, who is now effectively the OCI's number two in command after Mr Hickey temporarily stepped down as president.

Representatives for the FAI chief did not reply to requests for comment when contacted by the Irish Independent. Mr Delaney was voted onto the committee at its AGM in August 2014 - a gathering that also saw Mr Hickey extend his tenure by a further four years. He has led the OCI over four decades.

Other committee members who did not reply to requests for comment were Darren O'Neill (30), who boxed for Ireland in the London Olympics; Thomas Murphy (80), a retiree involved in amateur boxing; honorary treasurer Kevin Kilty (50), the Rio Olympics Chef de Mission; and Sarah Keane (43), the CEO of Swim Ireland.

Olympic medallist Sonia O'Sullivan (46) refused to comment when approached yesterday afternoon. Despite appearing as a panellist on RTÉ's Olympic coverage over the past two weeks, the national broadcaster has failed to question the OCI member on the ticket touting allegations.


William O'Brien (68), who is acting as the interim president of the OCI, declined to comment.

However, speaking to reporters outside the Rio Hospital where Mr Hickey is being treated, he said: "We will defend ourselves to the hilt."

Honorary general secretary Thomas Henihan (66) also declined to comment when approached in Rio. Representatives for board member Ciaran O'Cathain (55), who is the president of the Athlone Institute of Technology, would not comment.

Other OCI executive members who could not be reached were former cyclist Billy Kennedy (66); Thomas Rafter (73); and Robert Norwood (65), the president of the Snowsports Association of Ireland.

Former world indoor champion Derval O'Rourke was blunt in her assessment of the scandal, describing it as "disgusting".

"The least you can expect is honesty from the people who are the gatekeepers of the sport," she said.

Executive committee members

William O’Brien (68): Director and interim president of the OCI, he was the Chef de Mission for the Athens Olympics in 2004. With a background in Archery, he has served as the national body’s general secretary and president. Declined to comment.

John Delaney (48): First vice-president of the OCI and essentially number two in command since Pat Hickey stepped down. He first joined the organisation in 2005, and is currently chief executive of the FAI. Did not reply to requests for comment.

Kevin Kilty (50):  Chef de Mission of the Rio Olympics and honorary treasurer of the OCI. He was appointed shooting team leader and coach for the 2008 Olympics and he continued in this role for the 2012 Olympics. Did not reply to requests to comment.

Dermot Henihan (66): Honorary general secretary of the OCI, he was the Chef de Mission for the Beijing Olympics and works as a surveyor. Declined to comment.

Darren O’Neill (30): Chairman of the Boxing Athletes’ Commission. Boxed for Ireland in the 2012 Olympics. Did not reply to requests for a comment

Sonia O’Sullivan (46): Won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and regularly features on RTÉ as an analyst on athletics. Declined to comment.

Ciaran O’Cathain (55): President of Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT), a role he has held since 2000. He is also the president of Athletics Ireland. Declined to comment.

Thomas Murphy (80): A retiree, Mr Murphy has been involved with the IABA for over five decades, firstly as a boxer and latterly as a administrator. Did not reply to requests for a comment.

William Kennedy (66): An accomplished cyclist in the 1970s and 1980s, ‘Billy’ Kennedy managed the Irish cycling team at the 1988 games. Could not be reached for comment.

Thomas Rafter (73): A farmer living in Co Dublin, he is on the veterans sub-committee of the Irish Fencing Federation. Could not be reached for comment.

Sarah Keane (43): CEO of Swim Ireland and a former national swimming champion, she is also a qualified solicitor. Did not reply to requests for a comment.

Robert Norwood (65): He has served as president of the Snowsports Association of Ireland since 2002 to the present. Could not be reached for a comment.

Pat Hickey (71): Insurance broker and former president of the OCI. Elected at an AGM in August 2014 to a new four-year term as OCI president. Couldn’t be reached for comment.

Irish Independent

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