TD criticises remarks by colleague about Rugby World Cup bid
Shane Cassells questions Minister for Sport about lobbying of Wales and Scotland
Shane Ross: “We are not ashamed of the fact we lobbied and put our case.” Photograph: Getty Images
A Fianna Fáil TD has criticised as “disgraceful and wrong” remarks by a party colleague in the Seanad who claimed the Rugby World Cup bid team were amateurs and “couldn’t negotiate a piss-up in a brewery”.
Senator Terry Leydon had also said that when Fianna Fáil was in power it could negotiate for world events, and would not have lost the Welsh or Scottish vote in the competition won by France.
Meath West TD Shane Cassells did not name his colleague in the Dáil, but told the House: “What was said in the Seanad last Thursday about the Irish bid was disgraceful and wrong.”
He added it was “an insult and disrespectful to the efforts of Kevin Potts, Philip Orr, Dick Spring, Brian O’Driscoll, Philip Browne, Paraic Duffy, Minister for Sport Shane Ross and others”.
Mr Cassells said rather than dismiss the decision as an opportunity lost, it was worth discussing given the Government spend of over €1 million as part of the bid. The decision came down to “pure old horse trading” and what rugby commentators described as “a vote between lads and blazers”.
He asked what was the canvassing strategy when the outcome was in the hands of Ireland’s Six Nations allies Scotland and Wales.
Mr Cassells asked if the Minister had met his Scottish counterpart and offered a quid pro quo of Ireland assisting the Scots on the next occasion. He also asked if Mr Ross had contacted Welsh Assembly minister for sport Dafydd Elis-Thomas.
The Minister said he got involved from his first day as Minister. “I met World Rugby on several occasions, I introduced legislation and I travelled at least twice to the UK to lobby my British counterpart.”
Mr Ross told him “there was lobbying and plenty of it. We are not ashamed of the fact we lobbied and put our case.”
He pointed out that “despite the evaluation report, two-thirds of the people voting did not take any notice of that information and sent their votes elsewhere”. Decisions “were not made on the basis of the evaluation report itself”.
Mr Cassells said Ireland needed to follow the European municipal stadium model to ensure”any future pitch for a major tournament in any sport is credible”.
The Minister told him €50 million had been allocated for large-scale projects, and stadium projects were certainly eligible. “Commitments were given in this regard, and they were solid, bullet-proof and Government-sponsored.”