Saturday 19 October 2019

Who gave Rio 'tout' the tickets? - Opposition demands inquiry on tickets as Ross remains silent

Niall O'Connor

The Opposition has rounded on Sports Minister Shane Ross over his "failure" to initiate an independent investigation into the Olympic ticket tout scandal.

Mr Ross was last night urged to provide clear assurances that the Government would act to address the sale of tickets at the Games in what has become yet another controversy to overshadow the Irish authorities.

The Dublin Rathdown TD has yet to comment on the issue - or the doping scandal that has engulfed boxer Michael O'Reilly - since the Olympics began in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin called on Mr Ross - who has just returned from a holiday in France - to initiate an independent investigation.

Fianna Fáil's frontbench spokesman Timmy Dooley said Mr Ross would have sought "the recalling of the Dáil" if the ticket tout controversy erupted while he was in Opposition.

Read more: Firm at centre of €3m Rio ticketing scandal to 'vigorously defend' Irishman accused of touting

A member of the crowd shows their tickets for the gymnastics at the Rio Olympic Arena. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
A member of the crowd shows their tickets for the gymnastics at the Rio Olympic Arena. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Read more: Michael O’Reilly faces two year ban after being expelled from Olympics

"If Shane Ross was still on the Public Accounts Committee, he would be hopping mad about this issue," Mr Dooley said.

"We are talking about a situation where family members of athletes and other sports fans are unable to gain access to tickets, some of which they are seeking to enable children to attend the games. And yet there are tickets being hawked at exorbitant prices.

"I am quite amazed Shane Ross hasn't initiated an investigation.

"Everybody realises ministers have to take holidays. But when serious matters arise, it shouldn't take them long to make a comment."

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster said the controversy had the potential to damage the Olympic Council of Ireland's reputation.

"We need to get to the bottom of this issue and ensure that it never happens again," she said.

Mr Ross did not respond to queries last night, while his department failed to answer questions submitted by this newspaper.

His junior counterpart, Patrick O'Donovan, said anyone engaged in such a practice was "doing a huge disservice to sport, and to the country as well".

He told RTÉ: "People come to these events like this - whether at home or here in Brazil - in the hope of being able to attend and that they'll be able to attend and enjoy the spectacle of sport and they should do so at the face value of the tickets that are up for sale."

Irish Independent

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