No member of FAI board should seek reelection, Sports Ireland says
Conway worked to ‘steady the ship’ but it’s ‘time to hand it over’ – Sports Ireland chief
CEO of Sport Ireland John Treacy (L) and Chairperson of Sport Ireland Kieran Mulvey during a Joint Committee meeting on Transport Tourism & Sport regarding the governance review of the FAI at Leinster House, Dublin.Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
The governing body for sports in Ireland has echoed Minister for Sport Shane Ross’s call for the entire board of the Football Association of Ireland to step down at its annual general meeting later this month.
Sports Ireland chairman Kieran Mulvey and its chief executive John Treacy told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport on Wednesday that they had a clear understanding that none of the board would seek reelection.
At the weekend, it emerged outgoing president Donal Conway is the sole person nominated to continue in his role, while vice-president Noel Fitzroy has also been nominated for his role, but will face competition from two other people.
On Tuesday, Mr Ross wrote to Mr Conway asking him to withdraw his nomination.
In response, the board of the FAI pointed to a recommendation of a review group that at least one, and at most two, outgoing members of the board remain in situ to avoid risks of loss of knowledge and experience.
Mr Mulvey told the committee, which is chaired by Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd, that Sports Ireland understood “very clearly and unequivocally that the board would be standing down and would not be standing up again.
“I have no difficulty with the view of the Minister.”
Mr Treacy said Mr Conway had shown leadership and that needed to be acknowledged. “He did steady the ship.”
He added: “Our view is it’s now time to hand it over and get on with new people.”
Aidan Horan, a governance expert who chaired the independent review group, said it reached a conclusion that it might be best to have some element of continuity.
“We suggested that there should be some consideration of having one, or two, of the existing board (remaining in place) to smooth the handover.”
However, committee members including Mr O’Dowd, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy and Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, expressed the view there should be a total clean-out of the board. The Sports Ireland representatives echoed this view.
Challenged by Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger on this issue, Mr Horan argued that “having some transition and handover is a better way to go than having none at all”.
Mr Treacy also told the committee the investigation by the Office of Corporate Enforcement was “a serious and very substantial investigation”.
He said that a number of other investigation were continuing, including a forensic audit, and internal audits including one by Mazars.
“It may show up (findings) that are embarrassing to the former board. Our preferred view is that nobody would stand for the new board,” he said.
In response to questions from Mr O’Dowd about the annual accounts, Mr Mulvey said they would not be ready for the AGM.
“We will not be restoring funding until we have a full set of accounts,” he said.
Mr Mulvey also said the time window of only five days for the submissions of nominations for president was “dramatically short”.
“I don’t there is an organisation in the country… that would have such a truncated period,” he said.
Mr Treacy agreed with Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh that UEFA or FIFA may be bailing the FAI out at present to make up the shortfall in State funding.
He and Mark MacSharry of Fianna Fáil called for the AGM to be postponed for at least five months.
Mr Treacy, who won a silver medal int he marathon at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984, later said the process around the reform of the FAI was like running a marathon. “We are only at the three or four mile mark at the moment.”