Government gives €320m guarantee for Rugby World Cup bid without risk analysis

Eamon Ryan appeals for delay on Bill that commits public money so IRFU can answer questions

Viewed over 400,000 times online, Brian O'Driscoll, Bernard Brogan, Phillip Matthews and Paul O'Connell go viral as they showcase some of Ireland's most famous sporting venues as part of the Rugby World Cup 2023 bid. Video: IRFU


Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has warned the Government against committing €320 million of public money to support Ireland’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup without any analysis of the risks.

He objected to the emergency Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill going through the Dáil and Seanad this week with just four hours of debate in total and without any pre-legislative scrutiny.

Such scrutiny is now a standard mechanism to examine all Bills before they go through the Dáil and Seanad to ensure their feasibility.

The Government proposes to push the Bill through the Dáil this week but Mr Ryan called for a delay of a week to allow the IRFU answers questions at the Oireachtas committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

The emergency legislation is being rushed through the House to ensure Ireland can submit a secure bid to host the Rugby World Cup. The Bill will allow Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross to support Ireland’s bid and the staging of the tournament.

Scantiest detail

Former attorney general Maire Whelan had advised the Government it would not be able to give specific guarantees to support the bid without legislation to back it.

Mr Ryan raised the issue in the Dáil and said “there has been nothing but the scantiest detail and we’re being asked to commit €320 million of public money”.

He added that “we have not seen anyone from the IRFU present to a committee which they could easily have done”.

The Dublin Bay South TD said there was nothing to stop the Dáil from leaving the Bill to be debated next week and to allow the head of the IRFU to attend before the Transport, Tourism and Sport committee to answer questions.

“We should not commit €320 million of public money without any proper analysis as to where it’s going, what the risks are and what the potential benefits are.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told him the Bill had been provided for and “as the House would be aware the order and the schedule has been agreed by the business committee on this”.

Mr Ryan again appealed for the head of the IRFU to be called in to answer questions “in advance us voting on this measure to commit€320 million of public money”.

He asked would the Government facilitate such a hearing “so we’ve a chance to question people about this public spending”.

The Taoiseach said it was a matter for the committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport to decide who they wanted to invite in.

“I’ve no doubt that if they issued an invitation to the IRFU the IRFU would accept that invitation but it’s not a matter for the whole House,” Mr Varadkar said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin pointed out that there was no chairman of the transport committee “so it’s very hard for the committee to get any work done apparently”.

Former chairman of the committee Brendan Griffin has been appointed Minister of State for Transport, Tourism and Sport.