Olympic Council of Ireland 'will not be investigating itself' in ticket scandal inquiry

Olympic Council of Ireland 'will not be investigating itself' in ticket scandal inquiry

The under-fire Olympic Council of Ireland has said its inquiry into the ticket scandal in Rio will not see the body investigating itself, writes Daniel McConnell, Political Editor.

In a statement released today, the OCI said that the probe will focus on "the chain of events from the appointment of Pro10 to the arrest of Kevin Mallon", the Irishman arrested by Brazilian authorities a week ago.

An executive for sports hospitality company THG, Mr Mallon was arrested last week with 781 tickets marked for the Olympic Council of Ireland, even though THG does not have a permit to sell Irish Olympic tickets.

In a statement issued ahead of a meeting between Sports Minister Shane Ross and OCI head Pat Hickey, the OCI called for space to conduct its probe.

Pat Hickey
Pat Hickey

"Due process must be respected in this matter. On the advice of senior legal counsel, the OCI will not risk prejudicing the ongoing judicial process in Brazil by making any further public comment," the statement said.

"The OCI will be happy to make public the findings of its own investigation at the appropriate time, but not before the Brazilian legal case has been resolved.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the OCI is not investigating itself; it is investigating the chain of events from the appointment of Pro10 to the arrest of Mr Mallon. There remains no suggestion of any wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of the OCI or any of its staff," the statement added.

In a statement to the Irish Examiner, The Authorised Irish Ticket vendor, Pro 10 Sports Management, said that even though he wasn't paid, Mr Mallon was its representative in Rio and had an official letter of authorisation to act on its behalf relating to the collection of tickets.

“Mr Mallon was not paid for being its representative,” the statement said.

Noel Rock, Fine Gael TD and leading member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said answers are needed to address this saga.

“There's a clear need for an investigation into the OCI relationship with Pro 10, how it came about and the details of that relationship. There's also an equally pressing need for an investigation on the link between Pro 10 and THG, and the individual working for THG,” he said.

“It's mind boggling that Pro 10 - the agency charged with distributing tickets - had nobody in Rio but THG, a rival agency who were explicitly told by the International Olympic committee that they had no role in distributing tickets, were present.

“Similarly it's equally baffling that the individual from THG was, according to Pro 10, not being paid by Pro 10, therefore doing it in a voluntary capacity.

“Finally, it is surprising that as of yet no customers have gone public to complain about their missing tickets, even though the Brazilian authorities confiscated the tickets. It begs the question: who were those tickets assigned to, or were they assigned to anybody? It is clearly in the public interest that we get answers to these questions,” Mr Rock added.

As Minister Ross was in the air on his way to Rio, his junior minister Patrick O'Donovan said that the Government could not force the OCI to put an independent person on its inquiry team.

He also said that despite the saga now a week old, he and his department are still in the dark as to many of the basic facts as to what the situation is.

Mr O'Donovan said he expected that Mr Hickey would inform Minister Ross as to what independent element of the inquiry it proposed to include.

Mr O'Donovan also said that his department has written to the OCI to seek clarification on a number of points, including the number of tickets allocated to Ireland and to ask what level of co-operation there has been with officials in Rio.

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