Monday 22 January 2018

Delaney's calls to TDs over Oireachtas Committee backfires

FAI boss John Delaney
FAI boss John Delaney
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

FAI chief John Delaney has urged TDs not to pursue his appearance in front of an Oireachtas Committee over the controversial €5m payment from FIFA - because it would cause a "distraction" ahead of Ireland's crunch European qualifier with Scotland.

Mr Delaney has personally phoned members of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, saying he has nothing further to add.

The under-fire FAI chief sent a series of documents to committee chairman John O'Mahony last night. However, sources say they do not add further to the association's lengthy statement last Friday.

The FAI published documents on Friday outlining the timeline surrounding the payment by FIFA in January 2010.

"What was sent by Delaney this time adds nothing new to the saga," said a source.

Meanwhile, a group of Fine Gael TDs and senators met in private and agreed to forge on, and request Mr Delaney appear in front of the committee.

Several committee sources confirmed that Mr Delaney contacted them either today or yesterday and asked that they decide against his appearance taking place. But the move has raised some concern among committee members, who are now more keen on his appearance than before.

The FAI chief told members that he was concerned his appearance could cause a "distraction" ahead of Ireland's clash with Scotland in Dublin.

One member said: "He insists he has nothing further to say and wants this controversy to go away, but it's not that simple."

Several members said they felt under pressure to agree not to pursue his appearance.

The issue of Mr Delaney contacting TDs over his proposed appearance has been brought to the attention of senior Government figures.

"I'm surprised that Delaney would try to exert influence over a committee, that's what some of the committee members feel he is doing," one minster said.

Another committee member decided not to respond to the call, saying the decision to canvass committee members was unprecedented.

There remains deep and continuing concerns within Government circles as the "embarrassing" saga refuses to die.

At very senior levels within Government, the manner in which the payment was revealed by Mr Delaney on RTÉ Radio is also a matter of concern.

But Sports Minister Paschal Donohoe said he has full support for Mr Delaney.

Mr Delaney did not respond to calls and texts last night.

Irish Independent

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