Analysis: Five-hour OCI meeting results in five paragraph statement

Council meeting goes ahead despite six members being named in court warrant

The headquarters of the Olympic Council of Ireland, in Howth, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

The headquarters of the Olympic Council of Ireland, in Howth, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

When the pizzas arrived just after midnight for those at the executive meeting of the Olympic Council of Ireland you knew it was going to be a very late one.

But after over five hours of marathon talks one wondered what on earth they had found to discuss for so long.

The conclusion of their deliberations was a five-paragraph statement announcing the creation of a crisis subcommittee and the appointment of some accountants to examine the ticketing fiasco that has landed Pat Hickey in a prison cell for questioning.

But given the extraordinary events of the past couple of weeks, the OCI perhaps deserved a gold medal for getting a meeting off the ground at all.

Aside from its temporarily stepped aside president Mr Hickey, now sharing a cell with an alleged Irish ticket tout who the OCI says it knows nothing about; six other council figures now feature in a court warrant designed to keep them in Brazil so they could assist with the Rio police’s ticketing investigation.

Some of those are still in Brazil, at least one never went and another is already home from the Games.

Back in Ireland, and for whom the start of Sunday night’s meeting was delayed; acting OCI president William O’Brien is one of the six in the court warrant.

Another is Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney. He is also the vice president of the OCI.

But while the Brazilian court that sanctioned Mr Hickey’s arrest last week wanted Mr Delaney’s passport in Brazil, it now emerges he had never even been to the Games.

Also on the list of people named in the Rio court warrant were OCI officials Linda O’Reilly, Dermot Henihan, Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin.

Mr Henihan, Mr Kilty and Mr Martin had to surrender their passports and were told to appear at a police station for questioning.

In a statement Sunday night police said the evidence gathered so far indicated that the three men “were also involved in the illegal sale of tickets”.

Police also took computers, mobile phones and what is believed to be a significant number of unused tickets that had been held in a safe. The judge justified the search and seizure warrant saying it was necessary “to elucidate the modus operandi of a criminal association”.

Before and after Sunday night’s meeting the OCI executives present said nothing, save some confirming they had nothing to say.

The silence was punctuated by the five paragraph statement read out at the end – to the three journalists with the shortest straws who waited for the conclusion of the meeting.

The only entertainment outside the offices of solicitors Arthur Cox on Earlsfort Terrace where the meeting took place was the appearance of a fox rambling about the deserted Dublin south inner city streets.

The rest of the time was filled gazing up at the silhouettes in the meeting room and speculating on whether they looked like they were going to wrap up any time soon and phone calls to those inside posing the same question.

The only person present with anything substantive to say about Mr Hickey was Dermot Sherlock, a now elderly former boxing champion who said he believed the organisation’s president had been treated appallingly to date by the authorities in Rio.

It transpired he was a former honorary general secretary of the OCI, from 1992 to 2014. And though he had no voting rights at Sunday night’s meeting he was entitled to be present because he had given so many years service to the organisation.

“It wouldn’t happen here under our laws,” he said of Mr Hickey’s treatment by the police in Rio, which has included the broadcasting of his arrest and state of undress when he was taken into custody at his hotel.

“It’s a total and absolute disgrace, without a shadow of doubt it wouldn’t happen here,” Mr Sherlock stressed, adding the 71-year-old Dubliner and former Judo player was being subjected to very unfair scrutiny.

“If you are not present at something and hear ABC, whatever it is, you then are relying on media in whichever form, friendships this sort of thing, you cannot make a proper decision until you find out the facts.”

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