Minister supports call for Olympic council Oireachtas hearing

Premature for Government to start investigating touting controversy, says O’Donovan

Minister of State for Sports Patrick O’Donovan: “It is appropriate that the inquiries in Brazil are allowed to conclude before anything else.” File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Minister of State for Sports Patrick O’Donovan: “It is appropriate that the inquiries in Brazil are allowed to conclude before anything else.” File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Minister of State for Sports Patrick O’Donovan has supported calls for the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) to appear before an Oireachtas committee.

Mr O’Donovan told The Irish Times the transport committee should be the one to invite the body in to answer questions.

However, the Minister of State insisted it was premature for the Government to launch an investigation into the ongoing ticket-touting controversy.

The Olympic Council of Ireland has said it was investigating how an Irish man arrested in Brazil was allegedly selling tickets earmarked for the organisation. Kevin Mallon was picked up at a hotel near the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, along with a translator last Friday.

Brazil inquiries

“Let me be very clear, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered and the sooner they are answered the better, but the last thing anyone would want is for an inquiry here to block or prevent those in Brazil from concluding.

“It is in everyone’s interests that the questions we all have are answered as soon as possible.”

There were renewed calls yesterday for the OCI to appear before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming and Fine Gael Noel Rock insisted the inquiries in Brazil should not affect a PAC hearing.

Mr Fleming said OCI chief executive Pat Hickey could offer an explanation on the series of issues that have arisen. “He must have a good idea of where the breakdown in the system in relation to the ticket allocation sales and resale occurred, so I think he could give a bit of clarification on that at this stage because Ireland is getting bad publicity internationally and we could do without that . . . And he should help put it to bed as soon as possible.”

Rio meeting

Shane Ross

Mr Ross earlier this week supported calls for the chief executive to make a public statement on the controversies.

Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley said a senior official within the department should be sent to Brazil too.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said he fully supported the position of Mr Ross.

Chairman of the Transport and Sports committee Brendan Griffin said a full review of Ireland’s participation in Olympics should be initiated.

Mr Griffin said: “The performances of Irish athletes at the Olympics have already brought great pride to everyone in Ireland. After the Games and the Paralympic Games conclude, I would like to see the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council of Ireland, and other relevant parties, come before the sports committee to review performances at the 2016 Olympics.

“An excellent review of the London Games was carried out under the previous chairman, John O’Mahony, and I think there would be real merit in repeating this exercise.”

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