Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy will write to the FAI again over the coming days in order to give the association what he characterised as “another chance” to adequately explain the fact that John Delaney apparently had to loan the organisation €100,000 in April 2016.
Speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Treacy revealed that the association had replied to his letter requesting clarification regarding the loan on Tuesday evening when its president, Donal Conway, said that they would provide detail when the latest review commissioned by the FAI, this time by Mazars, has been completed.
In the meantime, Treacy said, Conway had offered to meet him to discuss the situation. The Sport Ireland CEO described the FAI’s response as “extremely disappointing” and remarked that the letter “provided no information for us”.
Treacy said, however, that it was too early at this point to say how Sport Ireland might proceed if further detail is not provided. He said that his preference is to write to the association again, “most likely tomorrow” with a view to giving the association until Monday to provide adequate information. The board of Sport Ireland is due to meet on Tuesday.
Both Treacy and Sport Ireland chairman Kieran Mulvey made clear their reluctance to proceed to sanctioning the association before every opportunity had been provided for it to properly answer the questions it has been asked.
Pressed by Imelda Munster TD, however, for a straight answer himself on whether he has confidence in the board of the FAI Treacy eventually stated that “I am not saying: ‘Yes’.”
Members of the committee were told that Sport Ireland has audited the FAI more regularly than most other governing bodies but both Treacy and Mulvey repeatedly made it clear that their organisation only has the powers to look into the way that funds provided directly by government are spent. These amount, they said, to roughly €2.9 million (or five per cent) of an annual turnover that amounts to almost €50 million.
The association, they said, had satisfied it they spend this money well and provide value to the public but both men accepted that there are corporate governance issues, most obviously in relation to the issue of the €100,000 and the fact that it was not referred to in the association’s annual accounts but also by the new position of executive vice-president created for Delaney and the way he was moved into it.
Members of the committee repeatedly expressed some frustration at the inability of Sport Ireland to properly ensure that the FAI’s governance met desired standards and its chair, Fergus O’Dowd TD, concluded that he and the other members were effectively asking: “How do we make sure that either you get that power or we give it to somebody else?
“What people want to be sure of here is that there is absolute certainly that these issues never arise gain and that if they do then a statutory body sorts them out immediately. Whatever questions there are; that we have an answer for the future.”