Taoiseach criticises Delaney's appearance at Oireachtas; Calls for State inquiry into FAI

John Delaney.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has criticised John Delaney's appearance at the Oireachtas Sport Committee, while Independent Senator Rónán Mullen has called for a State inquiry into the FAI's financial situation following former CEO's John Delaney's refusal to answer questions about a €100,000 loan he gave the organisation.

Mr Delaney told an Oireachtas Committee that he could not talk talk about the loan for legal reasons.

Speaking in Midleton, Co Cork the Taoiseach said the “public, taxpayers and football fans would like those questions to be answered."

He acknowleged that Mr Delaney was within his legal rights not to answer the questions put to him.

He said:"I don't think anyone would be satisfied by it. I think the public, taxpayers, football fans, would have liked to have seen those questions being answered, but the truth is he was within his legal rights not to answer those questions.

He's not a public servant and therefore is not accountable to the Oireachtas.

However, the FAI is accountable to the Office of the Director for Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) and is accountable to Sport Ireland for the public money they get."

Mr Varadkar said the ODCE and Sport Ireland will have questions to ask of the FAI which need to be answered and if answers are received it will allow for the restoration of funding to the FAI.

The Taoiseach also said the Government wants funding to be restored to the association so it can be allocated to local clubs, young people and to women’s sports.

I am actually very keen to restore funding to the FAI because we want that money to flow to local clubs, to youth and to women in sport. We just need to make sure that it is spent appropriately.

The Taoiseach said the vital thing from the Government's view point is to make sure that the millions of euros of taxpayers’ money we gave to the FAI has been used for the purpose intended.

"That is for facilities around the country, investment in youth, investment in women's sport. We need to carry out an investigation now to make sure that money was being properly used. We just need to make sure that it is spent appropriately."

He acknowledged that the FAI is not a public body and that Mr Delaney was within his legal rights not to account to the Oireachtas.

"But they (the ODCE and Sport Ireland) have questions to ask and John Delaney and the (FAI) board will have to answer them.”

Independent Senator Rónán Mullen said it is time for an inquiry to investigate the matter: "I don't think people got to a sense that those questions were satisfactorily answered.

"I don't think it should be let go that the committee was dealt with in this strange way by the FAI."

Mr Mullen said it would be similar to the one held in the Rio ticket sales scandal which cost €300,000.

"This is something the Minister should set up and as I say, why should the taxpayer be burdened with the cost of it. This is for the good of the FAI., it's for the good of Irish soccer, and it's for the good of accountability.

The FAI is an important organisation, it looms large in our culture and our country and as I say, it gets money from sport Ireland as well as from the general public, so there's a legitimate interest in setting up an inquiry that will get the facts here. We've seen the committee can't do it.

Additional reporting by Olivia Kelleher

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