Pat Hickey may be compelled to appear before new inquiry

TDs keen to question former OCI president on Olympic games ticket deal with THG

Former OCI president Pat Hickey. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Former OCI president Pat Hickey. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Oireachtas committee on sport will today consider requesting an official inquiry into a contract signed between the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) and British ticket agent THG until 2026.

Members will meet this afternoon to discuss how to proceed with their examination of the OCI’s ticket arrangements for future Olympic games.

The committee is also expected to agree to compel former OCI president Pat Hickey to give evidence before them.

Mr Hickey is awaiting trial in Brazil on seven separate charges connected to alleged ticket touting.

He declined to co-operate with an official inquiry into the controversy carried out by Mr Justice Carroll Moran and has not accepted invitations to appear before the committee.

TDs say they are keen to question Mr Hickey on a deal struck between the OCI and ticket firm THG that binds the two together for the Olympic games in 2020, 2022, 2024 and 2026.

The agreement was signed by the former president and did not get the approval of the executive board of the organisation. The Rio games in 2016 and the PyeongChang games in 2018 rejected THG as a ticket agent.

Not to interfere

Chairman of the committee Fergus O’Dowd said members were acutely aware of the need not to interfere with the inquiries by authorities under way in Brazil.

However, he stressed their desire to secure answers from Mr Hickey on the arrangements that could affect the OCI into the future.

“Mr Hickey has the answers we need and we are eager to ensure the OCI can move on from this controversy,” said Mr O’Dowd. “This does not effect the inquiries under way in Brazil.”

If agreed, the committee will make a formal request to the Minister for Sport Shane Ross for an inquiry to be conducted into the current arrangements.

Mr Ross has indicated he will consider such a move, but is understood to be reluctant to launch a second investigation into the OCI’s ticket arrangements. Mr Justice Moran’s report took more than 12 months to complete, cost €321,000, and did not secure co-operation from five of the six key players.

Compellability

TDs are also expected to agree to seek the powers of compellability to force Mr Hickey to appear before them. Legal advice to the committee has confirmed it does not currently have the authority to compel witnesses.

However, it is expected members will seek that right from the Dáil and the Seanad when the Houses return later this month.

They will then make a formal application to the Oireachtas committee on procedures for approval.

Socialist TD Mick Barry said Mr Hickey had done numerous media interviews and given lengthy statements to the press.

He insisted there was no reason the former president could not attend a committee hearing focused on issues outside the legal proceedings in Brazil.

Mr Hickey’s solicitor Giles Kennedy declined to comment ahead of the committee’s outcome.