Friday 17 January 2020

'It is an insult to every football fan in the country' - Sinn Féin TD slams FAI refusal to attend Oireachtas

Blameless: Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien was thrown out of Turners Cross
Blameless: Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien was thrown out of Turners Cross

Harry Clarke

Sinn Féin sport spokesperson Jonathan O'Brien TD has blasted the FAI for their refusal to attend tomorrow's Oireachtas Committee, calling it "an insult to every football fan in the country".

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross and a delegation from Sport Ireland have confirmed they will attend but the FAI issued their apologies via a letter on Tuesday afternoon saying that "the immediate focus of the Board must be on the financial restructuring necessary to safeguard jobs, the FAI's financial future and the appointment of an Independent Chairperson and three Independent Directors."

The letter, signed by from FAI Company Secretary Rea Walshe and sent to the to the Joint Committee added that: "At this moment in time, this requires the undivided attention of the Board of the Association and key management, it is for this reason that the Association is regretfully not in a position to appear before the Joint Committee, tomorrow Wednesday, December 18th."

However, Deputy O'Brien, who was one of the TD's asking questions at the FAI's last appearance back in April where former CEO John Delaney refused to answer questions on legal advice and was ejected from a Cork City game at Turner's Cross later that week after intervening when Gardai and stewards attempted to break up an anti-Delaney protest, responded with a statement of his own in which he severely criticised the decision.

"I am deeply frustrated at the attitude of the FAI in once again refusing to attend and answer the many, many questions that need to be asked and answered. It is an insult to every football fan in the country to hide away at this critical time," he said.

"People have legitimate and urgent questions including the workers at the FAI and the thousands of volunteers. The questions must be publicly answered. The FAI's reply stated they will attend when issues have been sorted out. That is an undefined period and is unacceptable.

"Anger is growing and understandably so. The future of Irish football is in the balance and the so-called leaders are hiding behind excuses. It is time for answers not excuses."

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