FAI want Varadkar to address issue

Association turns to Minister for Sport after High Court rules against Irish Sports Council

The FAI offices at the National Sports Campus, Abbotstown. The sporting body has written to Minsister Varadkar, providing him with information originally furnished to the Irish Sports Council.

The FAI offices at the National Sports Campus, Abbotstown. The sporting body has written to Minsister Varadkar, providing him with information originally furnished to the Irish Sports Council.

Fri, Aug 23, 2013, 22:02

The FAI has written to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar asking him to initiate an investigation into the actions of its former executive John Byrne, as well as Susan Ahern and Jim Glennon, after its attempt to have the Irish Sports Council conduct such an inquiry ended in failure for the ISC at the High Court and left it with a legal bill estimated to be in the region of €250,000.

The association confirmed yesterday that it had sent the letter, while the Department confirmed that it has been received and “is currently receiving consideration by the Minister and the Department”.

The move by the association follows its original attempt to have the ISC mount an investigation into what it claimed was improper behaviour by Byrne, Ahern and Glennon relating to a number of emails which it had found on its own server. It alleges that their actions adversely affected a number of sporting bodies.

The three were on the Council’s board at the time but Glennon subsequently resigned. Ahern denied any wrongdoing but agreed to cooperate with the proposed investigation and is still a member of the board while Byrne, who had worked for the FAI between 2004 and 2011, ended up challenging the ISC’s legal entitlement to investigate its own board members.

Byrne won his Judicial Review of the ISC’s procedures comprehensively, with Mr Justice Michael Peart criticising the organisation for the way it sought to handle the situation – including its decision to bring in the former Director of Corporate Affairs Paul Applebe to conduct the inquiry – finding that the Council had exceeded its statutory powers and agreeing with the contention of Byrne’s legal representatives that only the Minister could appoint, remove or initiate investigations relating to members of its board.

The FAI, it seems, has now decided to pursue the issue with him and in a statement last night it confirmed that: “Following the High Court decision that the Minister is the only person who can deal with this genuine and valid complaint (a complaint around serious governance issues which the Irish Sports Council wanted to investigate), the FAI has provided him with the information originally furnished to the Irish Sports Council.”

Byrne, who is now the chief executive of the Community Games, strenuously denied any wrongdoing in the original ISC investigation, during which, the High Court found, he had been unfairly treated and has claimed that the FAI has infringed his rights under the Data Protection Act.

Varadkar must now decide whether to start the process all over again.