‘They wouldn’t negotiate a piss-up in a brewery’

Heated exchanges in Seanad as Senator Terry Leyden criticises group lobbying for Ireland as Rugby World Cup venue

Members of the Irish RWC 2023 bid team: IRFU chief executive, Philip Browne (centre); IRFU president Philip Orr (right) and bid chairman Dick Spring.

Members of the Irish RWC 2023 bid team: IRFU chief executive, Philip Browne (centre); IRFU president Philip Orr (right) and bid chairman Dick Spring.

 

There were heated exchanges in the Seanad when Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden said those lobbying for Ireland as the venue for the 2023 Rugby World Cup “could not negotiate a piss-up in a brewery”.

Mr Leyden said when Fianna Fáil was in power it could negotiate for world events. “I wouldn’t lose the Scottish vote…I wouldn’t lose the Welsh vote,’’ he said. “Where were they going ? I mean what kind of amateurs are sent out any more?’’

Mr Leyden added: “Sure they wouldn’t negotiate a piss-up in a brewery, for God sake. Give me a break.’’

Mr Leyden said Minister for Sport Shane Ross was more concerned about North Korea.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond said Mr Leyden’s view was “ridiculous’’, adding the Fianna Fáil Senator knew nothing about the subject. “He should stick to the facts,’’ said Mr Richmond. Mr Richmond said Fianna Fáil in government could negotiate bailouts. “That went really well,’’ he added.

Meanwhile in the Dáil Minister for Education Richard Bruton ruled out an examination into Ireland’s failed bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“Every time a ballot goes against us...you can’t announce that you’re going to have an examination as to why we don’t win,” he said.

“Sometimes you don’t win these ballots.”

Taxpayer’s money

The Minister said investment in sports was done with a long-term goal “to see at least half our population actively involved in sporting activity” as the Government’s funding of stadium development was criticised in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells called for a report into Ireland’s third place out of three and said at that €1.25 million of taxpayers’ money and a lot of political capital went into the bid.

The Meath West TD believed there should be a report looking at the ballot process that saw Ireland receive just eight votes, as well as the entire process of the failed bid, which saw France win the competition to host the World Cup with South Africa placed second.

He said “we will need to get to the actual root of the fact that the other nations did not believe our commitment on stadiums in this country”.

He said they looked at Casement Park “where the meadow is growing six foot high”.

Mr Cassells reminded the Dáil that Mr Ross had passed legislation to facilitate the rugby bid and at the time described it as the “most energising piece of legislation he had ever introduced”.

Lacked energy

The Fianna Fáil TD said Ireland’s bid “lacked the energy, place kicking and front row power” of the French application.

“We need to look at Government commitment to stadium funding right across this country,” he said.

He believed they should also look at the municipal stadium model in place across Europe “so that our reputation in making bids in the future could be ensured and we could make a successful bid in the future”.

Mr Bruton said it was disappointing Ireland did not win “but sometimes you don’t win these ballots”.

He added: “I think the effort of making this bid will help us for the future and there are a lot of lessons will have been learned.”

In terms of the Government’s efforts “the maintenance of the sports capital grant right through the very difficult years was a very inspired decision”.

He said it had “helped communities right across the country build facilities that have kept up involvement of people in sports on a very practical basis”.

He said they had made and enhanced investment this year in those sports capital grants “so that more communities can benefit”.

“The long-term for sport is to see more people actively involved and we need to see at least half of our population actively involved in sporting activities”.