Thursday 18 July 2019

FAI remain silent on who signed off statement saying board were aware of €100k 'bridging loan'

FAI executive vice president John Delaney (right) arrives for the meeting with Donal Conway (centre) and Director of Communications Cathal Dervan
FAI executive vice president John Delaney (right) arrives for the meeting with Donal Conway (centre) and Director of Communications Cathal Dervan

Laura Larkin and John Fallon

THE FAI has refused to clarify who wrote and signed off on a statement which wrongly said its board had been kept "fully informed" about a controversial €100,000 loan.

The money, given to the organisation by its own chief executive John Delaney, was not disclosed in official accounts but a statement on March 18 said: "The board of the FAI has been kept fully informed in relation to this matter at all times."

Ahead of a marathon meeting with TDs and senators, the FAI's president Donal Conway contradicted that.

"Some recent comments made by the FAI did not accurately reflect the board's level of awareness of the existence of the €100,000 issue in 2017," Mr Conway said.

During the committee hearing it emerged that most of the board – with the exception of three people – were not made aware of the loan for two years.

The FAI's newly appointed director of public relations Cathal Dervan attended the committee alongside the board members, Mr Conway and Mr Delaney.

He was asked by Fianna Fail's Robert Troy who had signed off on the statement but there was no answer forthcoming.

The Herald again asked the FAI yesterday who wrote and signed off on the statement, but the organisation refused to comment.

At the time of going to press, the FAI had not furnished the committee with any further information.

Meanwhile, the largest adult league in Ireland, the Leinster Senior League (LSL), has sought their clubs' views on whether the entire board of the Football Association of Ireland should be cleared out.

A circular to members in all  divisions was issued following the committee hearing.

The LSL asked clubs whether their governing body should go in a "new direction".

Read more here:

It comes on the back of a call by Fergus O'Dowd, the Oireachtas committee chairman, for all board members to step down.

The Fine Gael TD followed the lead of fellow members Catherine Murphy, Imelda Munster, Ruth Coppinger and Noel Rock by also requesting Mr Delaney be removed entirely from the association.

In the email, the long-established league wrote: "The committee of the Leinster Senior League, the biggest adult league in the country, would like to seek the views of our members regarding their confidence in the board of the FAI following the events of the last few weeks, and with the contradictory statements issued, and the withdrawal of funding by Sport Ireland for grassroots projects.

"Do we believe the board should resign and allow the association to go in a new direction?"

Sport Ireland – which has frozen the FAI's public funding ahead of the completion of two reviews into the 2017 loan – is due to return to the Dail committee next week.

Sports Minister Shane Ross is also expected to attend.

Mr Ross has largely avoided making any public comments on the controversy and has not commented on Sport Ireland's decision to suspend and withdraw funding.

Limerick TD Mr Troy last night said there was "an onus on Mr Ross to speak out".

A spokesperson for Mr Ross said: "Following events in recent days, the minister's concerns remain. Minister Ross will brief committee members next week on the ongoing situation."

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