OCI candidates get in position for election ahead of February egm

Associates and opponent of Pat Hickey expected to be among candidates for president

 

Several existing members of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) executive committee have already lined themselves up for re-election ahead of next month’s extraordinary general meeting (egm). 

The closing date for nominations for all executive committee positions, including the role of president, is next Wednesday, January 11th, the required 28 days ahead of that egm, scheduled for the Conrad Hotel in Dublin on Thursday, February 9th.

 All existing executive committee members are required to resign their positions prior to the egm. Already, however, a trend is emerging: while some committee members have, for a variety of reasons, stated their intentions not to go forward for re-election, others are digging in their heels and are determined to hold their ground, again for a variety of reasons. 

What is certain is that there will be a new OCI president. The egm will formally bring to an end Pat Hickey’s tenure in that role, which he has held largely unchallenged since 1989, winning a record seventh four-year term in 2014. Hickey stepped aside in August pending the outcome of ticket-touting charges during the Rio Games, and confirmed last month that he has “repeatedly advised in the past year prior to the Rio Games 2016” that he would be “finishing his term of office after the Games” and that he “will not be a candidate for president at the forthcoming elections”.

 In the meantime, acting OCI president Willie O’Brien, who Hickey had already essentially hand-picked as his successor, has confirmed his candidature for the position of president on a permanent basis, which would see him in the role through the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. O’Brien, who represents the sport of archery, has been an OCI executive member since 1996. 

Also understood to be going forward, and likewise seen as loyal to Hickey’s previous reign, is the current honorary general secretary, Dermot Henihan, who also has 20 years of service already on the OCI executive committee. 

Opposite side

Another existing executive committee member, Sarah Keane, is also submitting her candidature for OCI president, although from the opposite side of the executive, which was effectively split down the middle in the aftermath of the Rio ticket-touting scandal. Keane, a former national swimming champion and currently chief executive of Swim Ireland, was part of the original three-person crisis management committee set up in the immediate aftermath of Hickey’s arrest in Rio on those ticket-touting charges. 

Only in November, Keane and the other two members openly contested a letter, penned by Henihan, which attributed the bulk of the spiralling legal and expenditure costs related to the Rio ticketing scandal – now known to exceed €1 million – to the crisis management committee. 

Other outcomes are known in advance: the three executive committee members who resigned their positions in the aftermath of the ticket-touting controversy – second vice-president John Delaney, honorary treasurer Kevin Kilty, and another crisis management committee member, Ciarán Ó Catháin – will not be going forward for re-election. 

Delaney, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive and an OCI member since 2005, said in his resignation statement that he was “never active in the day-to-day running of the OCI” and that his focus would now be on the FAI. Kilty, who was chef de mission for the Rio Games, and Ó Catháin, a former president of Athletics Ireland, have also ruled out running for re-election. 

In the meantime, only a few of the 36 national governing bodies of sport affiliated to the OCI, and therefore entitled to a vote in the committee elections, have stated their intention to put forward a candidate. Athletics Ireland has confirmed that its current president, Georgina Drumm, will be going forward for a position on the executive committee, although she won’t be a candidate for an officer position.

 “Athletics is the largest of the Olympic sports, so we certainly feel it is important we have a representative on the OCI executive committee,” said John Foley, chief executive of Athletics Ireland. “Also, given the recent debate about gender balance and gender quota, we also feel Georgina is a strong candidate.” 

Letter

According to a letter dated December 12th, written to those 36 national governing bodies of sport affiliated to the OCI, the egm is to “receive and consider the reports of the deputy chef de mission, honorary general secretary and honorary treasurer for the Rio Olympic Games” and also to “elect officers and an executive committee for the next [2020] Olympic Games. Nominations can be made only by a national federation whose sport is on the programme of the Olympic Games and which is affiliated to the council. No person shall be eligible for nomination for election to the executive committee who is not a) at the date of nomination, a delegate of a national federation whose sport is on the programme of the Olympic Games, which is affiliated to the council; b) an outgoing officer of the council; or c) an outgoing member of the council.” 

The OCI officer positions up for election are president, first vice-president, secnd vice-president, honorary general secretary and honorary treasurer, plus seven further members of the executive committee. 

While the OCI executive, prior to Rio, numbered 13, only nine remain, following the three resignations, with Hickey also stepping down. Only 12 positions will be elected next month, as the 13th member, the Athletes’ Commission representative, is voted on at another date. 

13-MEMBER OLYMPIC COUNCIL OF IRELAND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (August 2016, prior to Rio ticket-touting controversy):

Pat Hickey (president)
Sport: judo
First appointed in 1982 (stepped aside, August 2016)

Willie O’Brien (first vice-president)
Sport: archery
First appointed in 1996

John Delaney (second vice-president)
Sport: football
First appointed in 2005 (resigned, October 2016)

Dermot Henihan (honorary general secretary)
Sport: rowing
First appointed in 1996

Kevin Kilty (honorary treasurer)
Sport: shooting
First appointed in 2008 (resigned, October 2016)

Billy Kennedy (committee member)
Sport: cycling
First appointed in 1992

Ciarán Ó Catháin (committee member)
Sport: athletics
First appointed in 2014 (resigned, November 2016)

Thomas Rafter (committee member)
Sport: fencing
First appointed in 1996

Sonia O’Sullivan (committee member)
Sport: athletics
First appointed in 2008

Robert Norwood (committee member)
Sport: snow sports
First appointed in 2014

Sarah Keane (committee member)
Sport: swimming
First appointed in 2014

Thomas Murphy (committee member)
Sport: boxing
First appointed in 2014

Darren O’Neill (committee member/Athletes’ Commission)
Sport: boxing
First appointed in 2014

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