Pat Hickey’s televised arrest ‘a disgrace’, says OCI member

Incident would not have happened here, says honorary general secretary Dermot Sherlock

 Dermot Sherlock is followed by Sonia O’Sullivan as they arrive arrive at the offices of law firm Arthur Cox in Dublin, where the OCI held a meeting to discuss the ticket-touting scandal. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

Dermot Sherlock is followed by Sonia O’Sullivan as they arrive arrive at the offices of law firm Arthur Cox in Dublin, where the OCI held a meeting to discuss the ticket-touting scandal. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

 

The arrest of Pat Hickey in front of television cameras in Brazil was “a total and absolute disgrace” that would not have happened in Ireland, the honorary general secretary of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has said.

On his way into a meeting of the OCI executive committee last night, Dermot Sherlock said he was eager to hear the facts before making up his mind over the ticket touting allegations that led to the arrest of Mr Hickey, who has stood aside temporarily as Olympic Council of Ireland president. Mr Hickey faces allegations of illicit marketing, driving a cartel and ticket touting.

“If you are not present at something and hear ABC, whatever it is, you then are relying on media in whichever form, friendships this sort of thing, you cannot make a proper decision until you find out the facts,” he said.

Mr Sherlock said there was an “open agenda” for the meeting, which he said was about trying to find out what the present situation is.

He said there was little in terms of detail from Brazil and that for OCI staff and officers in Rio, “Pat’s situation alone is enough to occupy them”.

Not making sense

Asked about the filming of Mr Hickey’s arrest last week by TV crews, Mr Sherlock said “without a shadow of a doubt it wouldn’t happen here”.

Executive committee member Tommy Murphy said he did not know what was going on when asked about Mr Hickey’s arrest and the Brazilian authorities taking the passports of OCI officials Kevin Kilty, Dermot Henihan and Stephen Martin.

“They will come back and tell us what happened and we will sit down and analyse what we have to do,” he said.

Mr Murphy, who is involved in amateur boxing, said Mr Hickey had never let him down in his work in the boxing field.

‘Decent and honest man’

Mr Murphy said there were questions to be asked but he did not know what those were as he entered the meeting.

Earlier, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney also questioned Brazilian police’s treatment of Mr Hickey.

He said it was highly regrettable the ticket touting controversy had overshadowed the work of the Irish athletes. However, he said he found the manner of Mr Hickey’s detention “surprising to say the least”.

“Pat Hickey hasn’t been convicted of anything yet and he is being held in a high-security prison,” he said. “Certainly, the way in which the case has been handled . . . there almost seems to be an assumption of guilt before anything is publicly proven.”

The Government has established a non-statutory inquiry into the controversy, which Mr Coveney defended despite it not having the power to compel witnesses or documents. He said the Government had done all it could in this regard and he expected a report within 12 weeks.

“I think that this needs to be taken out of the political sphere. People are commenting and reacting to make headlines without any established facts. That is not helpful to anybody,” he said.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar also supported the decision to hold a non-statutory inquiry, saying it was the right way to go considering the scale of the controversy.

“As far as I’m aware everybody has said they will co-operate. We’ll at least have some answers in a few weeks’ time,” he said.