Pat Hickey: Shane Ross showed ‘no humanity’ after my arrest
Former Olympic chief says Minister ‘scarpered’ from Rio, neglecting duty of care
Former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey has accused Minister for Sport Shane Ross of scarpering from Rio and not showing any humanity following his arrest as part of an inquiry into the handling of Olympics tickets.
Mr Hickey said that, prior to the games, he and Mr Ross had a “good relationship” but that he later learned the Minister “never made any enquiries into my condition” following his arrest.
“I would have thought that a Minister of Sport - and I’m one of the highest office holders of sport in Ireland - would have taken due care and attention to look after a fellow citizen and a fellow human, and to show some humanity,” Mr Hickey told Newstalk Breakfast.
“But, as I said, he scarpered back home, and I was left to my own devices with my legal team to set me free.”
Asked about Mr Hickey’s comments, a spokesman for Mr Ross’s department said the Irish Embassy provided consular assistance throughout the time he spent in prison and while under detention after he left prison.
“His health and treatment were monitored during that time,” he added.
Mr Hickey, now back in Ireland on bail, is still awaiting a court date in Rio to face various charges for what has been termed ambush marketing, theft, tax evasion, money-laundering and criminal association.
He spent almost five months in Brazil after his arrest on August 17th last.
“I’d like to just emphasise that I am totally innocent of all these charges, and I will be proven innocent, and my legal team in Brazil are working flat out,” Mr Hickey said.
“This has left a devastating effect on my family — on my wife, on my children, devastating. It’s affected my own health. As a result of all this stress, I now have a heart problem, and I have had two medical procedures.
“There’s not a doubt about it that I was absolutely humiliated and treated in a disgraceful manner on my arrest. Everyone in the world saw, the media were at the door.
“The judge of the high court of Brazil said I should never, ever have been arrested and put in prison.”
“Lots of people said many things about me when I was away. My legal team have kept a record and a track of everything.
“When I clear my name, I’ll spend some time reading over all those.”
A report on the Rio ticketing scandal has been received by Mr Ross, following an inquiry by Justice Carroll Moran.
However, lawyers for Mr Hickey have warned against its publication on the grounds that it could prejudice his right to a fair trial.
Mr Ross has forwarded the contents to the new Attorney General Seamus Wolfe to assess what aspects of the report can be published.
Mr Hickey explained on Newstalk why he and his lawyers did not want the report published.
“I saw a draft of the report, and my legal team have advised Judge Moran — and the Minister, and the Attorney General — that this report should not be published until after the court case is heard in Rio. Anything that comes out of it could prejudice my fair trial.
“Even worse still, any media reports can also be used by the prosecutor in Brazil against me in the case.”
Mr Hickey denied that he had any concealed relationships with sponsors, including The Hospitality Group (THG) Sports.
“THG is the biggest sponsor of all our sponsors, at €1.5m — which is a phenomenal sponsorship. My job was to facilitate them to get the best deal possible from ticketing.”
Mr Hickey defended his almost three decade long term as president of the OCI.
“Before I left Dublin on the plane for Rio, I left the OCI in a very clean state of health. There was €3 million surplus in the bank, and a property out in Howth that’s valued at €3 million.
“I can remember vividly coming back from the Sydney games in the year 2000, and I think we had €30,000 in the bank. When I left for Rio, we had €3 million.
Supporters and ‘enemies’
“I’ve been president for nearly 30 years — and in the course of time you do make enemies, and you do activities that people may not be happy with. This was a great opportunity for them to come out and criticise me.
“I’ve received great letters of support and calls and emails from many athletes and team officials who have travelled away with me during the years. They don’t see me as the monster that I’ve been portrayed as.”
He also said that he was “extremely happy” that there had been no question “of any misappropriation of any finance or any funding whatsoever” amid the allegations and accusations he has faced.
Mr Hickey remains the Irish member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and he said the organisation was “fully backing me and fully supporting me in this crazy situation I find myself in”.
He ruled out returning to the OCI, pointing out that he had announced his intention to not seek another term before leaving for Rio.
When asked about the “subtext” of comments by the new head of the OCI, Sarah Keane, he said: “I have a very good relationship with Sarah Keane, and I think she will make a great president. In fact, I brought her on to the committee. I will have a very good working relationship with the Olympic Council of Ireland.
“The new team at the organisation will bring a whole new flair to a new Olympic Council of Ireland.
“I will assist them in every way I can as the IOC member in Ireland. But then I want to get back to normal life with my family.”
Ms Keane told the OCI’s recent agm the ticketing controversy had already consumed €1.5 million of the OCI’s reserves, leaving them with a deficit of €826,000 for 2016 – although the final legal costs, €1.04m to date, were far from finished yet.
Ms Keane described the past year as “chaotic, dramatic, traumatic, and extremely costly”.
Referring to these costs, Mr Hickey said: “The €1.5m was done without my knowledge, I know nothing about it — this was done by the crisis management committee.
“I can tell you that my legal costs today in Brazil amount to €280,000, and there is an insurance policy that I put in place over 15 years ago.
“The cover on that policy is €1 million — that’s the cap on it. My fees have been taken out of that €1 million.”